Depression: What is it?

by: Alex Wright

Is depression an emotion? Is it a combination of issues, known as a mental illness? Can it be both? Let’s look at a few definitions.

The dictionary defines depression as “feelings of severe despondency and dejection.”

Psychiatry.org defines depression as a “common and serious illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.””

The definition of Major Depressive Disorder is “a mental disorder characterized by a persistently depressed mood and long-term loss of pleasure or interest in life, often with other symptoms such as disturbed sleep, feelings of guilt or inadequacy, and suicidal thoughts, such as ‘I want to die’.”

With these descriptions, it may sound like the disease would be apparent on a person’s face or in their behavior but actually it’s important to note that depression is invisible. That’s why we have the cliche that it’s often the apparently happiest person who is suffering the most.

One thing we do know is that depression is extraordinary. It’s not something a person normally feels.

Robert Plutchik proposed that there are eight primary emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust and joy. Other authors have proposed fear, anger, joy, and sadness as the four basic emotions. As you can see, depression is not included among these. 

Is depression a mental illness? Mayo Clinic’s definition of depression is, “a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest and can interfere with your daily life.”

Again, is depression a mental illness? WedMD states, “Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that makes you feel constant sadness or lack of interest in life.”

But can you be depressed without having depression? Is the difference in persistence? Even those diagnosed with depression are not depressed at all times. This inconsistency is part of what contributes to the fact that depression is invisible.

Therefore, we’re going to be using both definitions. Posts following this should apply, for the most part, to either definition, whether you’re diagnosed or not. 

#depressionisextraordinary #depressionisinvisible

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