Everyone feels depressed at some point or another. The question is, do you have a genuine case of depression which needs medical treatment? As mental health conditions have become more accepted and more readily treated with medication, awareness has also increased. What has been forgotten is that people who are not clinically depressed can still feel depressed at times. Understanding the difference allows you feel better with as little medical intervention as necessary.
Clinical depression is a very serious mental health condition which can lead to suicidal feelings and affect your physical health in a serious way. If you are feeling suicidal, completely unable to get through your day without crying, unable to eat, or otherwise feeling like your health is in danger, you should seek professional help immediately. However, if the situation is not quite that serious, there is room for you to take control of your own health situation.
The main idea behind the diagnosis of clinical depression is that it has a medical cause, not a life cause. Fortunately, most people who feel depressed do not have a serious medical condition, but rather, have some issues in their life which are depressing. If you have recently experienced a loss of a loved one or even the loss of a job, you are experiencing grief. Grief is a very normal and healthy reaction that feels bad at the time. However, feeling the grief is the path towards healing. Medication does not eliminate the need to feel the feelings. Until you grieve, you can not heal.
Sometimes, however, the cause of depression is far from obvious. Feeling sad and depressed for a long period of time, combined with a general feeling of anxiety or tearfulness can seem like a case of clinical depression. But before you go off to the doctor for medication, take the time to consider what your body is telling you. Physical symptoms are a good sign that something is amiss in your life. If you can appreciate that, then you may be willing to try to discover where the problem lies. Whatever you do, do not beat yourself up for how you feel. Whether you end up with a diagnosis of clinical depression or discover something new about yourself, your feelings are valid and your emotions are doing their job of alerting you to a problem which should be addressed.
If you are willing to try to uncover the source of your problems, there are several choices available. The first is writing. Take your time, in a private space, and allow yourself to write. Ask yourself: Why am I feeling sad? Am I afraid of something? Is there something I am afraid to admit to myself? Am I missing something important in my life? Do I have feelings which I need to express? Allow the answers to come to you. Do not be afraid. Knowledge is power. Sometimes, we are afraid of what we will hear if we listen to our own voice. In reality, knowing our own voice allows us to make decisions in our own behalf.
If writing is not your style, meditation is another option. Just sitting in a comfortable position and focusing on your breathing brings peace to your mind. Once your mind is clear, you can focus on your body. Where do you feel uncomfortable? What is the feeling? What does your body need to feel better? Again, if you are open to hearing it, your body will communicate with you. Listening gives you the power to decide what to do about it.
If you are afraid to do these exercises on your own, or believe you do not know how to do them, seek the help of a professional therapist or counselor. They are trained to help you uncover the issues which are affecting you, and will be a non-judgemental support person for you to lean on. If they believe you need medication or psychiatric treatment, they will give you a referral without hesitation.
If after looking honestly at your life situation you are still feeling depressed and have not found a cause, then it is time to call a psychiatrist and consider a diagnosis of clinical depression. There is nothing wrong with taking medication and receiving appropriate mental health care. However, if you have issues in your life which are making you unhappy, medication is not going to make them go away. The fastest path to feeling better is to identify the cause of your problem and treat the condition. Listening to your body and responding to what it is telling you will lead you to the answers you need.