It’s OK to be sad. Everyone feels “off” sometimes, whether that means angry, frustrated or just down in the dumps. Those are normal human emotions.
But to be depressed is something else: It’s a diagnosis.
“When someone has a prolonged period of time when they can’t get out of bed, they don’t enjoy their usual things, or their eating and sleeping (habits) are off, that’s different than being sad,” said Michelle Warren, a therapist in Metro Detroit. “If you had an issue with your cholesterol, we wouldn’t say, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. You’ll be fine.’”
People who suspect they’re depressed should talk to a professional, but getting to that point isn’t always easy. If it’s you who’s struggling, you might ask yourself: “How do I find a therapist? What is that person going to ask me? How long will it take before I feel better?”
Or, “Can’t I just talk to my sister or a friend?”
You can, but it’s helpful to have an outside source, Warren said.
“If we go to our friends, they’re often going to take our side or give us the feedback that we want to hear,” she added. “A therapist can help you see blind spots, offer new perspective, and help you see your role in what’s going on. Friends can’t always do that.”
They can be supportive, but they’re only so much help in some circumstances, Warren said.