Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is it Sadness or is it Depression?

So many people around me have dealt with very difficult life circumstances.  There are those who have dealt with the loss of a loved one, financial difficulties, addictions,  children who have gone astray, physical illness, divorce,  the inability to bare children, and the list could go on.  Each one of these experience's carry with it at times, overwhelming sadness and adversity.  I have a great admiration for those who I know of, who have personally carried the heavy load of any one of these life trials.

We all will have times in our lives when we experience sadness as the result of life's cicumstances.  In the Book of Mormon we are taught that there must be opposition in all things.  If we are to truly know what happiness feels like, than we must also experience the pain, hurt, and sorrow of sadness. We can't fully understand the emotional feelings that accompany either happiness or sadness, unless we experience both of them.

Many times the word "depressed" is used to describe sadness.  However, true clinical depression is actually a mental/mood disorder, with sadness being a major symptom of the disorder.  Sadness, as an emotion, however, is a natural and normal human response to any of the trials and adversity that we are given along life's journey.  So how do we know if we are experiencing sadness, or if we are dealing with clinical depression?

David Burns, an expert in the field of psychiatry describes the difference between sadness and depression in his book "Feeling Good the New Mood Therapy."  He said:

"Either depression or sadness can develop after a loss or a failure in your efforts to reach a goal of great personal importance.  Sadness comes, however, without distortion.  It involves a flow of feeling and therefore has a time limit.  It never involves a lessening of your self-esteem.  Depression is frozen-it tends to persist or recur indefinitely, and always involves loss of self-esteem."

Because sadness is so often associated with depression, I think it's good for people to understand that there's a difference between a healthy, normal, sadness and clinical depression.  I hope recognizing depression as a disorder helps to shed light on understanding those who struggle with it.

To all those individuals who are struggling with difficult challenges and adversities, whatever they may be, I truly admire you.  There are many who have had very difficult trials to deal with, and your example of strength and faith have been truly inspirational.  Thank you for teaching me to have faith and patience as I work through my personal trials.  You are truly amazing!

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