As is pointed out in The "How To Transform Your Life" E-Workshop, understanding is necessary for successful coping. When a problem is understood, it is much easier to change.
It is hard to win a war when you don't know the enemy. And depression can be a strong enemy indeed--An enemy that defeats many men, women, and children.
Have you been struggling with the enemy depression? If so you are not alone.
In fact, as Richard O'Connor tells us in his book, Undoing Depression: What Therapy Doesn't Teach You and Medication Can't Give You , Twenty percent of the population experiences depression at one time or another.. Twenty million Americans -- or one in ten -- experience at lease one episode of major depression.
The rate of clinical depression is increasing all over the world. Depressive disorders affect all ages, races and religions
According to Paul A. Wider, author of Overcoming Depression And Manic Depression (Bipolar Depression): The Non-Drug Approach , several of the great men of history struggled with depression. These included Saint Francis of Assisi, Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.
Depression is described as an implacable, unpredictable Beast by Tracy Thompson. Ms. Thompson has suffered with depression since childhood. Often her depression was so severe that she, in her own words, "thought how nice it would be to kill myself." ( The Beast: A Journey Through Depression , p. 5).
For years she didn't understand the disease of depression. She writes in her book that it was only after she came to terms with the disease that she was able to develop a new and better life -- a life described as one of "work, love, and ordinary happiness." (back cover)
You too can develop a new and better life. But to do so you need to understand depression. You also need to know if you are experiencng clinical depression or just sadness.
So what is the difference between clinical depression and sadness?
Clinical depression is more than sadness. It is a disease. Francis Mark Mondimore, author of Depression: The Mood Disease , points out that sadness is reactive...depression is not.
Sadness happens when your circumstances are sad. The sadness that you experience is in proportion to the situation. You can understand why you are feeling depressed.
With sadness, as your situation gets better, so does your mood. You become more happy.
But with clinical depression the sadness takes on a life of its own. It is unpredictable. It comes on for apparently no reason, whether your situation is good or bad.
At times a stressful circumstance will trigger clinical depression. At other times it seems to come out of the blue.
Andrew Solomon states in his book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression , "Perhaps depression can best be described as emotional pain that forces itself on us against our will, and then breaks free of its externals." (p. 16)
How can I know if I am clinically depressed or just sad?
Begin to keep a daily log or journal of your mood. Rate how depressed you feel each day on a scale of 0 (= no depression) to 10 (= very severe depression).
Also write about what is happening when you become depressed. Can you explain the depression in light of your situations or circumstances? Or does it seem to occur regardless of what your situations or circumstances are like?
By keeping this log, you may gain insight into problems that you need to address. Such insights may be helpful as you work on self help for your clinical depression.
At times sadness is a symptom of clinical depression...Other times it is a normal, reactive mood.
Either way, feelings of sadness indicate that you need to make changes in your life. Sadness, like any painful emotion, is an alarm.
Alarms warn you that you have a problem. It may be a serious problem or a minor problem. Which ever it is, you need to try and understand what the feeling is warning you about. And you need to take steps to correct the problem.
Now, I realize understanding problems and coping with those problems is often easier said than done. Nevertheless, you can learn to cope. You just need to know how.
To help you learn how to cope, The "How To Transform Your Life" E-Workshop has been developed. This e-workshop takes you step-by-step through the process of changing your life for the better.
In short, clinical depression is a disease that affects many men, women, and children of all races and religions.
Sadness is a reactive mood. Depression is more than a sad mood, it is a disease.
Nevertheless, with both sadness and clinical depression you can help by coping well with problems and stressors. It is important to develop good coping skills.