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Am I Depressed?

We often see the terms “sad” and “depressed” used interchangeably.


Some people use the term “depressed” when they really mean they’re sad, for example, “I didn’t win that competition I entered, I’m so depressed”.

Although the terms have kind of been accepted as being interchangeable, they really shouldn’t be, because sadness is a totally normal emotion that we all feel from time to time, whereas depression is a mental illness.

adult alone anxious black and white depression depressed thepatchworkfox

So how can we tell the difference?

Well, depression has a set of 10 specific diagnostic criteria*:

  • At least one of the following occurring most days, most of the time, for at least two weeks:

persistent sadness or low mood

loss of interests or pleasure

fatigue or low energy

  • Associated symptoms:

disturbed sleep

poor concentration or indecisiveness

low self-confidence

poor or increased appetite

suicidal thoughts or acts

agitation or slowing of movements

guilt or self-blame

If you have fewer than four symptoms, you do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression. If you have four symptoms, you are described as having mild depression. A diagnosis of moderate depression would require five to six of the ten symptoms, and if you have seven or more, this would be classified as severe depression.

As you can see, there is a lot more to depression than just feeling sad. That’s not to say that feeling sad isn’t unpleasant and upsetting, but there is a big difference between that and the persistent condition of depression.


doctor patient diagnosis depression depressed thepatchworkfox

So what can we do if we recognise these symptoms in ourselves?

Well, the first thing to do is to make an appointment with your GP. Whilst I think the internet is great for finding out information about our mental health, it’s important to get checked out by a medical professional before jumping to conclusions about a diagnosis. Make a list of the criteria you believe you meet, and take it with you to your appointment – I know for myself that I often freeze up in doctor’s appointments and don’t get across the information I want to tell them if I don’t write it down beforehand.

Aside from getting answers, another great thing about going to see your GP is that if they conclude that you are depressed, they will be able to discuss potential treatment options with you, whether it’s therapy, medication, or both. If you’re worried about forgetting what they tell you, take a notepad and pen and write it down (they should give you leaflets, but it’s good to be prepared just in case). Another option if you’re worried about not being able to communicate your needs, or forgetting what the doctor says, is to take another person with you to the appointment – maybe a partner, a family member, or a friend.

If you are dissatisfied with the response you get from your GP, you can request to see another GP for a second opinion. It is your absolute right to do this, so don’t be afraid to ask.

If you’re not sure about going to see your GP and would rather do some more research by yourself first, you could try visiting one of the following websites (I’ve linked to their specific pages on depression):

In the meantime…

Finally, we all know that it can be difficult to get a doctor’s appointment quickly, so if you are struggling in the meantime, please consider ringing Samaritans (116 123). I’ve used their service several times when I’ve been in a dark place, and their volunteers are so supportive and understanding. Don’t suffer alone.


Am I Depressed? (The Patchwork Fox)

4 replies »

  1. I think part of the trouble is that depression as a word doesn’t only refer to major depressive disorder or other depressive disorders, it also means a state of unhappiness. It gets confusing to talk about depressive disorders, because they can be confused with the feelings of depression that everyone has at one time or another. Much like anxiety disorders, the illnesses and the emotions share the same name, for better or worse.


  2. Such a great, informative post. I did the NHS mood self-assessment (which asks questions to determine levels of depression/anxiety) before I went to my GP appointment. My results for depression were moderate while my results for anxiety were very high. I printed my results and took them with me in case I needed them to show the doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

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