We’re all probably familiar with the following terms: a blue mood, a bit of a funk, under the weather, and not 100%. They’re all catch-phrases referring to that experiential state of being when one has dropped a notch or two below their usual operating level.In addition to being accustomed to hearing those phrases, we’ve all probably been there ourselves a time or two—felt a little off center, a bit out of sorts, a tad ‘down in the dumps.’
Blue moods and funks are not something we should become overly concerned about. They are, by nature, short-lived and other than a nuisance and uncomfortable, tend to be harmless overall.
Whatever their cause, be it lack of sleep, a long work week, or losing a sentimental piece of jewelry, those funks eventually work themselves out. Granted, we may miss a beat or two while experiencing them; ultimately, though, we still keep up with the marching band.
What is Depression?
Depression, however, is different. Depression is more than just a bit of a blue mood or the drag that some folks feel when getting over the hurdle of ‘Hump Day.’
Depression is more severe. It holds the potential for lasting not just days, but even weeks and months. It also has the tendency to impair a person’s functioning in a significant way.
The Oxford American Dictionary defines depression as: feelings of severe despondency and dejection. And when referencing the field of psychiatry, Oxford American Dictionary defines it as: a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.
Watch for These Signs of Depression
If you are suspecting that you or someone you know is suffering from depression, pay attention for the following signs:
A decrease in interest or engagement of pleasurable activities What was typically previously enjoyable and engaged in without a problem now no longer holds the same pleasure and may even become burdensome.
For instance, Joey may have enjoyed taking his dog for a daily walk in the neighborhood, but now it seems like a chore and he has to push himself to do it even once per week.
Or perhaps Susan didn’t think twice about attending her book club every Monday night. She got herself out the door like clockwork to arrive at her club on time each week. Now she hasn’t gone in three weeks and she has barely cracked open the book of the month.
A change in sleeping habits
This can take various forms, ranging from difficulty falling asleep, interrupted sleep throughout the night, falling asleep but waking up with insomnia (wide awake and unable to fall back asleep), or sleeping throughout the night but having early morning awakening.
Feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness
For instance, having the feeling that things will never change. Thinking to one’s self, “This is as good as it gets and there’s nothing I can do about it.” For someone experiencing hopelessness, the future looks bleak and they may view things from the perspective, “Why even bother?”
Fatigue/low energy/lethargyAlthough these symptoms may speak for themselves, I have several examples for you. Although Simon has always enjoyed sleeping in, now he can’t get out of bed until 3 p.m. He feels heavy, drained, and incredibly tired.
Cindy, although she is up and moving, feels like she is walking through molasses. She can’t wait to plop on her couch. This can be experienced as emptiness, very low mood, tearfulness, etc.
Change in social functioning
This can manifest in various forms. Perhaps Bruno liked getting together with the guys, but now he isolates himself and doesn’t return his friends’ phone calls. Maybe Linda was easy to interact with, but now she is easily agitated when conversing with others. In other words, watch what you say!
A noticeable reduction in the ability to think or concentrate
For instance, Janie’s mind might wander when you’re having a conversation with her. You’ll need to repeat yourself for her to absorb what you just said. Or Gregory may have difficulty watching a movie, because it requires too much concentration for him to follow along.
Change in appetite and/or eating habits
Those who are depressed may lose their appetite and eating food (regardless of what it is or how much they’ve always liked it) becomes a struggle.
On the other hand, some who are depressed may experience the opposite of poor appetite. They may have an increase in appetite and find themselves eating to an excess. Weight loss or weight gain can accompany depression for some people.
Thoughts related to death
A person who is depressed might have recurring thoughts of death. These may or may not involve thoughts of suicide.
Decline in self-care/grooming
Again, there are multiple ways this can manifest itself in a depressed person. Clyde may have been meticulous as to how he shaved his moustache and goatee. Now he is quite unkempt not only in grooming his facial hair, but even in combing the hair on his head.
Bonnie may be skipping her daily shower and forgetting to brush her teeth. Prior to depression, Cathy may not have dressed up each time she left the house; however, even when casually dressed, she always wore clean and attractive attire. As she became more and more depressed, though, her wardrobe seemed to consist mainly of sweatpants, t-shirts, and sneakers.
Getting Help for Depression
As you can see, depression has the potential to be a very serious thing. Because of its negative symptoms, impairment in any important area of functioning can be affected—social functioning, occupation, self-care, etc.
Depression, unlike a ‘blue mood,’ is not something that someone typically just snaps out of. It usually requires an intervention of some sort. As a Christian, I first and foremost recommend seeking Jesus as the Divine Intervention for depression. He longs to be an integral part of our healing process. And we know that He already made a way for victory by shedding His blood at the cross.
Seeking help from a Christian therapist, in addition to turning to Jesus, is an excellent intervention, also. A therapist can assist someone struggling with depression not only by being a support system, but by providing tools for depression management while helping that person work through their depression.
Jesus stated in John 14:27, “Let not your heart be troubled.” I echo our Lord and Savior—if you have depression, tackle it. Let not your heart be troubled.
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