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973741 tn?1342346373

Depression or The Blues? Which do you have?

Depression or the blues.  This is hard for some people to know the difference.  But they ARE different.  When should someone seek treatment for depression that moves past the blues and melancholy?
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Avatar universal
I'm not sure depression is at all connected to what we call the blues.  Everyone gets sad.  Depression is irrational.  It can grow out of sadness, but I think this only happens to those who were prone to it anyway.  Psychologists have long believed you can develop depression by suppressing grief or trauma, so there's that old nurture vs. nature thing, and I have no answers to it.  But depression is very deep, it starts to cause us to not do things or make bad decisions, it affects our essential self-esteem.  Sadness isn't like that.  Treatment might, however, be useful even for deep sadness that sticks around for a long time just to help snap us out of it, and by that, I mean therapy, not drugs.  Drugs should always be confined to those old enough so that their brain is developed if possible and when therapy doesn't work or life gets so affected it's just not working, it's severely disrupted, in which case we're not likely to do well in therapy.  It's a great question to raise, Mom, because so many come on here who are grieving and are being given drugs for depression.  The problem with that is that it can suppress the grieving process, leaving it unfinished, and that can turn what might have been a bad bout of sadness into a permanent case of depression.  
973741 tn?1342346373
What about dysthymia?  That's low level depression which is very similar to the blues.  And we can get the blues out of nowhere.  Just a 'feeling' in the air.
2 Comments
I think that's actually a medical term for persistent, chronic depression, not necessarily low level.  It is not similar to the blues.  Here's why:  depression has no cause in real life.  Sadness or the blues does.  Depression is an obsessive thinking disorder.  It can grow out of the blues if they stick around long enough so a person starts to lose interest in life and descends into depression, an illness.  You know me, though, I think a lot of these modern labels for old problems are made up by marketing people trying to sell medical care, especially pharmaceutical products.  But the theory goes, obviously, being depressed or sad all the time would make a living creature, and people are just a form of living creature, less able to contribute to the survival of the species, the only apparent purpose life exists.  That's naked science, and I know we all have more spiritual and imaginative feelings about life to try to make some sense of completely random biological events.  But those of us who suffer from depression or anxiety are just thinking in a very destructive way, it goes on and on, we start avoiding things, we become less constructive. we make those around us less able to go about their business.  A lot of life depends on not overthinking it.  Me, I'm a complete failure at life because of my useless thinking.  But sadness is a different animal, it's very useful.  Grief, guilt, and sadness teach us what to avoid in life.  They represent empathy, which keeps us from becoming psychopaths and destructive to the species.  It's a very useful biological adaptation that should lead to just being more understanding and nicer and show us how to learn.  Depression is in no way like the blues.  The blues are temporary, a bit of melancholy, a sign that something could be better.  Depression is useless.  
Just a little more explication, maybe it'll be useful to someone, maybe not.  I'm in my sixties now but I'm still sad about being cheated on by the girl I was in love wth when I was 17, and the one who cheated on me when I was 19, and the one I thought I was going to marry who broke up with me when I was 21.  I'm sad that my Dad and my Mom and my sister are dead, and that my best friend in junior high and high school became a jerk and we stopped being friends when I was in college.  Sadness.  My anxiety disorder didn't come from those things.  My depression didn't come from those things.  Everyone goes through those things.  I don't know where it came from, nobody does, but it's just a very different thing.  I've been with my wife for 20 some odd years now but yeah, I'm still sad those early relationships didn't work out.  Always will be.  Again, though, not depression.  No fun at all, but not depression.  The things that shape our personalities and make them unique aren't illnesses, though your doctor will often tell you that they are and give you a drug.  But they're not.  Depression and anxiety are illnesses.  
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