Everyone gets depressed sometimes. What’s the difference between depression/unhappiness and depressive illness?
Of course it is normal to get down, be sad, feel depressed when things go wrong for us. It would be abnormal not to feel these emotions at some time, such as getting bad news, or being very disappointed about something. This is normal human unhappiness. We may use the word “depression”, but it is not an illness, of course. We all become unhappy in response to stress; however some of us will be so sensitive to that stress that we will develop depressive illness, which will heal much faster with proper treatment.
The following are some of the differences between ordinary depression / unhappiness and depression, the illness:-
- Many people with depression illness have an abnormal special blood test, as they have a chemical imbalance. In unhappiness, this blood test remains normal (see “There is a blood test for depression!”)
- Depressive illness is always with you; it may be less severe at various times, but you are never free of the blackness creeping over you. In contrast, unhappiness fades away completely, pretty quickly, usually within hours or days. Unhappiness may return when you meet the same problem again, such as problems at work or at home, but it does disappear completely for periods of time.
- When nice things are happening, such as being with good friends, unhappiness is usually wiped out completely, so you feel you are back to your normal self. If you are suffering depressive illness, it may be less severe during nice times, but you still feel you are not your normal self.
- When you are unhappy, you can still concentrate on things that interest you, and remember them. When you are depressed, your concentration and memory are usually impaired, so you do not absorb TV programs, reading or even conversation as well as before, and you find you keep losing things, or keep repeating yourself in conversation, or forget what you have been told earlier.
- If unhappiness lasts a long time, or multiple causes of unhappiness develop in your life, or one severe event distresses you considerably, you may slide into depressive illness, due to the stresses involved. For example, everyone is unhappy when someone close to them dies, but 40 - 50% of us will ALSO be pushed into depressive illness as a result of the distress involved.
Important Disclaimer: This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.