Genetics, environment, and learning all play a role in the development and continuation of depression. It is a complex disease made up of many different symptoms. The first and most recognizable of these is depressed mood.
When we hear the word depression, most of us think of sadness. We associate sadness with a personal loss. The relative severity of the loss determines the level of sadness experienced. When a loved one dies, we expect to experience extreme sadness. When our favorite sports team loses a game, we also experience sadness to a minor degree. The depressed mood of depression doesn’t always match the severity of the loss. In fact, there may be no observable loss at all.
Under normal circumstances, we can improve our mood. Disappointments can be minimized by distractions or corrective actions. We can listen to music, call a friend, exercise, or do any number of things to ease the emotional pain. When faced with depression, our mood is not so easily changed. That sadness hovers over us like a dark cloud. We may know what to do, but still be unable to do it.
Sometimes, people with depression do not appear sad at all. That doesn’t mean they don’t experience sadness.
Getting easily irritated, having a short temper, or being prone to angry outbursts can also be a sign of a depressed mood. This is especially true in children or adults who have been conditioned to avoid overt signs of weakness.
Depressed mood is one of two symptoms that must be present for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (i.e. depression). Yet depressed mood doesn’t always mean feeling sadness. Feelings of anger, impatience, or irritation may all be signs of a depressed mood if they are experienced most of the time for at least two weeks. Feelings of sadness, irritation, impatience, or anger lasting two or more weeks should be discussed with your doctor or therapist.
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Headache disorders counselor and advocate Tammy Rome maintains a private practice specializing in treating clients with Migraine and other headache disorders. She also volunteers as vice chair of the American Headache and Migraine Association and as president of The Cluster Headache Support Group. You can read more of Tammy’s work on her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.