What is Depression, Really?

What is Depression, Really?

Lots of people talk about depression, but not everyone knows what clinical depression really is. Phrases like, “I’m so depressed!” are creeping into every day language. The term “depression” is replacing more common words, like “sad” and “tired” or “unmotivated.”

So what is clinical depression? How do I know if I have it?

That’s what we’re going to explore today.

Disclaimer: This website is for information and support only. I am not a mental healthcare professional. I only have personal experience with the topic. This website should not be used as a substitute for professional treatment or advice.

DSM-IV - a little light reading!What is clinical depression?

In diagnosing their patients, mental healthcare professionals use a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

According to the DSM-IV (please note that the DSM-V has now been released; I just don’t have a copy of it yet), a major depressive episode has the following characteristics:

DSM-IV Criteria for Major Depressive Episode

What is generally not considered depression?

  • Going through the normal grieving process when a loved one dies
  • Feeling tired because you are on medication that causes fatigue
  • Feeling disinterested because you’ve gotten bored
  • Feeling down on one isolated day, perhaps because of something that happened

What does depression feel like?

David Snyder, blogger at www.snyderspace.comOne of my friends, David Snyder, has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. He has his own blog at www.snyderspace.com, where he shares some of his experiences as well as his hope in Jesus . In his post Down so Long, he did a good job describing what depression feels like, so I’ll quote him here:

“The waves of depression hit me like a tital wave. The smallest tasks are like trying to climb a mountain. The act of breathing becomes a bothersome chore. It becomes work rather than an automatic process. Sometimes my standard for a ‘successful day’ is minimized to being able to prepare a bowl of cereal. I sometimes go days without eating because I am so ‘paralyzed.’ The subjective experience is very difficult to describe. It is sort of like being blindfolded by all the joys of life. Everything that makes me laugh fails to do so. I have no motivation to even do things that benefit me. There is the lack of ablity to propel myself through the day.”

For further reading:


This website is for information and support only. I am not a mental healthcare professional. I only have personal experience with the topic. This website should not be used as a substitute for professional treatment or advice.

4 thoughts on “What is Depression, Really?

  1. “Sometimes my standard for a ‘successful day’ is minimized to being able to prepare a bowl of cereal.” This is a perfect example of how difficult depression can make life feel! Thanks for sharing!

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