Depression: Isn’t it really just the blues?
What is depression?
is a very serious illness that attacks both the mind and the body. Depression
can result in very serious impairment in work, social, and bodily functioning.
It frequently is manifested in a multitude of physical symptoms, thoughts and
moods. It affects the way you eat, sleep, and the way you feel about yourself.
Depression is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be “willed
away“. You cannot “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and cause depression to
go away. In most people however, depression can be treated successfully. Current
research indicates that approximately 80% to 90% of individuals with depression
can be successfully treated
within one year of initiating treatment.
Depression: How is it different from the blues?
Depression is significantly different from the blues. Unlike grief or passing
sadness, depression usually does not change in relation to your circumstances.
It does not dissipate with time and may last for months or even years if left
untreated. It frequently results in a disruption of relationships, professional
productivity, disability or death.
An important essential distinction between depression and the blues, is that
depression is an illness while the blues are normal reactions to life
situations. Symptoms of depression include multiple moods, thoughts, and bodily
functions, whereas the blues is composed of a single state of being in a low
mood. The duration is also significantly different in that depression may
persist for months, years or even decades without remission, whereas the blues
are usually temporary and situational. Depression may result in suicide whereas
the blues rarely produce any thoughts of harming yourself. Depression usually
requires specific medical or psychiatric treatment, whereas the blues may merely
require a good listener and/or time to heal the source of the sadness or grief.
What are the primary treatments for depression?
Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy or a
combination of the two. Medications continue to improve with some of the newer
antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Effexor being
frequently used to effectively treat depression. These medications primarily
affect the biochemistry of the brain, by having an effect on certain nerve
cells, which are involved in many of the physiological processes associated with
eating, sleeping, and the regulation of moods. Fortunately, they also have less
side effects then the antidepressants which preceded them. Depression is
frequently treated with antidepressants, whereas the blues only occasionally
need the intervention of medications.
Psychotherapy or counseling is also frequently effectively used in the
treatment depression. Current research indicates that some types of counseling
such as cognitive behavioral therapy may be as effective as medications, and
more effective in the long-term, with less probability of relapse. Counseling
also may be effective for people who are experiencing the blues by helping them
to ventilate feelings, solve problems and to develop rational ways of thinking
about their temporary difficulties which may be causing them to feel down.
Information and webpage by
Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist
(Health and Geriatric Psychologist
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Diagnosis - DSM-IV Diagnosis and Codes: In Alphabetical Order