Life is full of ups and downs, and there are many events, situations, or people that can temporarily send you into a sad or low mood. And these moods can last for days or weeks, casting a general pall over your life. If you’ve been struggling with low moods for longer than “temporary,” however, especially when there’s no precipitating event, you may be dealing with something much larger — major depressive disorder.
At the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Dr. Diana Ghelber and our team specialize in mood disorders, including depression, which affects a whopping 322 million people worldwide. As mental health specialists, we understand the difference between a low mood and depression, and we outline some of the key distinguishing factors here.
Time will tell
As we mentioned in the beginning, a low mood is often a temporary state, brought about an event, such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job, or even a fight with a family member. In fact, much of our nation is experiencing a low mood as we face an unprecedented health care crisis.
And these mood responses are perfectly normal — emotions are, after all, part of the human condition.
If, however, you find yourself struggling with a low mood for more than two weeks, you may be dealing with major depressive disorder. And by “low mood,” we’re referring to:
- Feelings of hopelessness or despair
- Overwhelming sadness
- Low self-esteem
While there’s no exact timeline, the mental health community has found that the two-week mark is a good dividing line between a low mood and depression.
Beyond your mood
While depression is a mood disorder, it casts a wide net over your overall health and well-being. Many people who have depression, also experience:
- Sleep issues, such as insomnia or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Body aches
- Changes in your appetite
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, in addition to your low mood, it could be a sign of depression.
Loss of interest
One of the most insidious aspects of depression is a general loss of interest in activities that used to bring you pleasure. If, for example, you’re in a low mood, you can often go for a walk or talk to a friend, which makes you feel better.
With depression, you have no interest in these activities; and even when you do engage in them, your heart isn’t in it, and they prove to be ineffective.
This loss of interest and unshakeable sadness are the hallmarks of depression, and they also prevent you from seeking help, since you’re unmotivated and don’t see the point in trying.
If anything we’ve discussed above sounds like you or someone you love, we urge you to consider the possibility that you may be dealing with full-blown depression. The good news is that we can help you get to the other side of your depression using both traditional and innovative therapies, such as:
If you’d like to learn more about the difference between a low mood and depression, please contact our offices in Fort Worth or Granby, Texas, to schedule a consultation.