Differentiating between 'sadness' and 'depression'
Feeling down is a perfectly natural and understandable reaction to life events like loss or bereavement
I take the view that "becoming depressed" can for many people be an entirely natural response to some life events. There are some circumstances, like the death of a loved one for example, where we would expect the bereaved person to become very sad, to withdraw and to reflect on their loss.
Grief is not an illness; it is more usefully thought of as part of being human and a normal response to death of a loved one.’ Editorial (unsigned) The Lancet (medical journal) 18 Feb 2012
I believe that the world we live in often puts enormous pressure on us to 'fit in', to be 'normal', to 'bounce back'. To what extent do we truly allow ourselves the time to adjust to the major changes that life can throw at us? I am talking here about relationships ending, change of job (other than through choice) redundancy and of course bereavement. The truth is, we need time to process things in our mind -- and modern life often doesn't recognise this. A period of withdrawal after this type of change, accompanied by acute sadness, may not necessarily represent depression. It could be a perfectly normal and healthy reaction to major life change.
‘Sadness is not an illness; it is a normal response to loss.' Pete Sanders, Psychotherapist & Author
You don't have to be depressed to benefit from talking
In days gone by we might have talked our feelings over in confidence with perhaps an older or trusted member of what might of course have been quite a large extended family. Or we may have sought counsel from a priest, imam, rabbi or other religious or spiritual leader. Many people are still fortunate to be able to do this, however, many of us do not have this facility, or would feel uncomfortable with it. In such circumstances, an alternative is to speak to a counsellor. Many people prefer this, valuing the confidentiality. Some people say that it is easier or preferable to speak to an 'impartial' third party. In such cases the counsellor's role is to offer you a safe and non-judgmental space, to listen and to reflect with you on what they are hearing. They will listen out for and support you to be aware of, your feelings. They will support you to acknowledge all of your feelings, including any that you feel may be 'inconvenient' or which you perhaps do not wish to have or acknowledge.
It is a gradual process that takes place at your pace. The emphasis isn't on 'problem solving' but on allowing you to 'take stock' of things. If life adjustments are necessary, it is for you to come to this in your own way, in your own time. The counsellor won't get tired of listening because clients sometimes have to go back over things many times in order to 'get things straight' in their heads. Sometimes, nothing can be done about what has happened, or will happen, yet talking about things allows you to move towards acceptance, or to gently adjust your perspectives or expectations and therefore to live more comfortably with your situation. Click here to read about moderate and major depression on the next page or use the links below and the top to navigate to a specific section.
Mild Depression (you are here)
Different experiences of depression are discussed on the pages above, together with some of the therapeutic options relevant to each type.