Dr. Neubaurer over at Yahoo! Health has a pretty basic description of clinical depression at his Beat the Blues blog.
The more interesting part of the post to me is where he describes some of the resistance people have to acknowledging depression as a medical issue. I'm well-familiar with the folks who think depressed people should just "snap out of it" and that anti-depressants are for the weak. (Hey, some depressed people certainly think that way.)
What I wasn't so aware of was that there were still a significant number of people who think, as Neubaurer puts it:
From time to time, I still hear people argue that there is no such thing as mental illness. They believe that some people simply think differently and that one way of thinking is just as valid as any other.
They argue that people who think differently should be left alone and that trying to change them through treatment amounts to forcing them to conform to the majority.
Of course, I don't tend of think of depression as a way of thinking, so much as a way of feeling...that certainly colors your thoughts.
We've been talking about post-partum depression as part of the BlogHers Act initiative over at BlogHer, and what strikes me is that there are so many themes and variations when it comes to this disease. It doesn't have just one manifestation, it's like recipe with different components.
I'm thinking about this today, I suppose, because yesterday my 20-year-old cat died. (You can read more about her here.) While I have suffered from depression in the past, this is really abject sadness. And what should I look out for? How would I know if my sadness extends into depression, given I have suffered from that earlier in life?
“…I realized that in depression, nothing matters. And in sadness, everything matters.”
Gloria Steinem, referring to the loss of her husband, during an interview on the CBS News Sunday Morning, 1-22-06
Since I'm playing over all the details of my cat's last days in my head, trying to figure out if there was something I could have done differently, I'd have to say I'm in the "everything matters" phase.
Do you have any simple, succinct way you know the difference between sadness and depression?