By: Frank Kieffer, MS, NCC, Licensed Professional Counselor
Holy Redeemer Counseling Center
What is Depression? As you go about your daily routine you have probably heard people make statements such as “I feel so down today” or “I have been so depressed all week." Many of us have even made these same comments ourselves. However, how does one distinguish between normal everyday feelings of sadness or the “blues” and clinical depression that can require professional help to remedy?
To understand clinical depression, an understanding of normal experiences of sadness is first necessary. Feelings of sadness are part of the human experience and a normal aspect of all our lives.
No one is happy all the time. Feelings of sadness due to overwork, an inability to take a nice vacation, our children crying, your favorite sports team losing or even gloomy rainy days is typically a normal emotional reaction. Intense sadness following a significant loss, such as a loved one, pet or job is also a normal reaction and what we commonly refer to as bereavement or grief.
The truth is, we are all sad or down sometimes and the more complicated life becomes the more prone to feelings of sadness we can be. Normal experiences of sadness tend to be transient or short term and often go away on their own or by taking simple actions such as calling a friend or doing something fun.
Clinical depression on the other hand is an intense and prolonged sadness that does not dissipate on its own and that causes significant impairment in your social or occupational life. It is a debilitating condition that affects approximately 17.6 million people in the United States—1 in 6 Americans each year. It is actually one of the leading causes of missed work, reduced productivity, lost opportunities and visits to primary care physicians.
The trick to recognizing clinical depression is increasing your awareness of the signs and symptoms of this debilitating condition.
Common symptoms of depression are as follows:
- Feelings of intense sadness nearly every day, more days than not
- Loss of interest in former hobbies or pleasurable activities
- Sudden and significant weight loss or gain
- Feelings of slowness or being slowed down in both thought and action
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Social withdrawal
- A sense of hopelessness about the future
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of libido
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be an indicator to seek help from a trained and caring professional counselor. Clinical research has demonstrated that with help from a trained professional counselor, depression can be treated effectively and often without the use of medications. The trick to beating depression and retaking your life is recognizing the signs and symptoms of this condition and knowing when to seek help from a supportive counselor.
The Holy Redeemer Counseling Center offers FREE depression and anxiety screenings, by appointment. This is a confidential service and includes the opportunity to meet with a mental health professional at no cost. To schedule a daytime appointment, call 215-914-4190
To learn more about the Holy Redeemer Counseling Center, visit our Webpage or call 215-914-4190.