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In this educational series we will explore healthy versus hurtful emotions and indicators of potential mental illness as well as ways in which we can start disrupting the process and treating the problem.

In the course of our lives we go through a wide array of emotions; joy over hearing good news, anger after being cut off in traffic, fear of something new, and sadness from losses and disappointments. All of these emotions can be very normal and healthy and a necessary part of life. We grieve when we lose someone we love, we laugh when we hear a joke, we become scared of things that could hurt us; but how do we know when we have pushed past normal and healthy responses to something that could be more and perhaps need outside help to find our way back to a sense of balance?

Sadness is a normal healthy response to areas of disappointment, frustration and loss. We experience it when we go through a variety of transitions in our lives, when we see those we love hurting, and when we encounter a challenge that is a struggle for us. Sadness in its natural form is a result of something, an event or experience that has impacted us in some way. It will have a trigger, a process and will fade over time.

Depression, however, can be a sadness that doesn’t fade. A state of being that permeates into everything that was once enjoyable and feels like it drains us from the inside out. It can take the people, places and things we love and make them lose color and excitement in our eyes. It can remove the motivation to live life and completely change the way we think about and approach out world. Clinical Depression consists of a group of symptoms being sustained for at least a 2 weeks period that are different from how a person normally feels or acts, these may include:

9 Signs & Symptoms of Depression

  • Feeling sad, empty, and/or hopeless daily
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment nearly everything that was once enjoyable
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Changes in sleep, either sleeping too much or too little
  • Difficulty in slowing down or getting moving
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly daily
  • Intense feelings of worthlessness or self blame
  • Finding thinking, making decisions, and concentrating a struggle
  • Thoughts of death, ways to die or trying to harm yourself

In addition to experiencing at least 5 of these symptoms, depression also involves these symptoms causing ‘significant’ problems in day to day life. Making it hard to perform at work, school and/or spend positive time with friends and family. It may also include intense body aches, stomach issues, and difficulties in movement. Oftentimes people discount depression for the flu or wear and tear of a busy day to day life. At other times, a person will go from doctor to doctor seeking a diagnosis for a physical ailment and an underlying diagnosis of depression may go overlooked and untreated.

If you are seeing these symptoms presenting within yourself or a loved one it may be time to talk to your doctor about depression and what treatment options are available. Each person’s treatment path is different but may include increased physical activity, changes in social outlets, counseling (talk therapy), ruling out of medical complications and/or medications as needed.

Resources & Links For Further Reading:

National Institute of Mental Health on Depression

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