Clinical Depression vs. Depression

I feel uncomfortable when people use the term “clinical depression”. I understand the need for it, as it does exist, however I don’t like the term because it sometimes causes people to believe there is real depression and fake depression, serious depression and not serious depression, actual depression and just being sad.

In my opinion depression is depression, regardless of the cause. The feelings one experiences are very real. The hopelessness is blinding. Depression is always scary.

Finding treatment is when the cause of depression becomes a factor.

Are you depressed because of a situation you’ve been placed in?

Ex. Your husband died and you now need to care for 3 kids alone.

Are you depressed because of unhealthy thought patterns you’ve developed throughout your life?

Ex. You don’t like yourself. You only find your worth from how other people see you.

Are you depressed because of a biological factor?

Ex. You have a hormone imbalance which causes a constant feeling of irritability and hopelessness.

Disclaimer: These are not the only reasons why a person would be depressed.

There are many other examples I could give, but the point is the cause of your depression becomes important when you want to find the right treatment.

Some reading this may have never struggled with depression. If you haven’t, or even if you have but want a different way of looking at things, imagine that each one of us has a house inside our minds. I’ll use the 3 examples from before as different situations you might be in.

  1. You might be completely healthy and have a solid foundation for your home with a beautiful house to live in. Everything is fine and you live a happy life until something like the death of a spouse comes and tears your house down. You’ll need help rebuilding your house, but the foundation is there.
  2. You might have some incorrect and unhealthy ways of looking at yourself, so while you have a home, and it’s a beautiful one, it’s only built on a few stilts. Something as simple as the wind blowing too hard can destroy your house. Unless you get help building a foundation your house will keep getting destroyed, and you’ll either give up or live your life waiting for the next breakdown.
  3. You might be physically healthy on the outside but have something going on biologically on the inside. In this case you don’t even have a place to build your foundation. You’re in the middle of the ocean and every time somebody tells you to build your house you’re like “how the freak do you expect me to do that?” You’ll first need help getting to solid ground, where you can then get help building your foundation followed by your home.

Now, you might be thinking, “Oh, well clinical depression is example 3.”

And that is why I feel uncomfortable with the term. The fact is example 3 isn’t more real than examples 1 and 2. Regardless of how your home got destroyed, without a house you’re homeless.

It sucks.

It’s scary.

You feel isolated, alone, and you start to wonder if you’ll ever have a place to belong.

A person’s major or clinical depression may have been caused by any of the 3 examples I gave (or any number of reasons I didn’t mention), and is not reserved solely for those with no solid ground beneath their feet.

What I would hope is that we stop trying to decide if somebody is really depressed or not when we learn about their struggles. Let’s do what we can to help them in the process of rebuilding their home, whether that be getting them to solid ground, building a foundation, or building the actual home.


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