Feeling depressed or having a set of depressive symptoms is normal in the face of some negative events that people experience. It is a natural response motivated by the circumstances the person is experiencing.

However, when sadness, discouragement or extreme apathy last too long without any apparent cause is when we can say that we are suffering from “depression”.

These kinds of mental disorders are complex, so in the next lines we will see several explanations that help to understand Depressive Disorders .

What are depressive disorders?

Depression physically and mentally affects the individual’s way of feeling and thinking, and can lead to a desire to get away from family, work and friends. It can also cause anxiety and other psychological disorders.

It is frequent to find in some patient testimonies the loss of interest and the inability to enjoy the usual activities, showing little motivation .

In addition, many patients think that having depression means staying in bed crying and not wanting anything, which is why they do not identify with this concept even though they may actually be diagnosed with a depressive disorder. And although there are symptoms that are characteristic of this kind of psychological disorders, there are differences from one person to another.

For Marta Garrido Gonzalez, psychologist specialized in psychology, Malaga PsicoAbreu, depression is an emotional disorder that appears due to irrational thoughts . These beliefs, attitudes and thoughts are created from the lived experiences and by the person’s learning.

Often, people who suffer from depression think that if their environment is not as it should be (i.e. lack of a loved one, a break-up, not getting a certain job, etc.) it is normal to feel depressed and that life has no meaning.

However, this happens because of the person’s way of coping and by depositing their happiness in factors external to themselves, without realizing that happiness does not depend on what happens to us, but on how we take it.

What is the difference between feeling sad and having depression?

The term depression is confusing since is used on a daily basis to describe when the person is in a low mood , when they are very negative, or in grieving processes, among other reasons.

It is clear that all people go through difficult situations throughout their lives and these can cause them sadness. However, this does not have to mean that you suffer from depression.

The characteristics of normal sadness are as follows:

  • The intensity and duration is proportional to the stimulus that caused it .
  • The person’s attention is focused on the need for space and to put all the conflicting emotions in their place.
  • Acceptance and learning.

The following is an example of a case in which symptoms similar to those of depression appear but do not constitute a true psychiatric pathology.

In a breakup, the person who has been left may not understand why she is single again, and feels that she loved that person and does not know how to live without him, thinks about all the time spent together and the future that will no longer be with that person.

On a psychological level the person feels emotional pain, negativity towards the future , etc. They may want to lock themselves up in the house, cry and even make many plans without enjoying themselves.

In these cases, the symptoms are the same as in depression, but proportional to the event.

On the other hand, the characteristics of depression are as follows:

  • There may be no event that triggers the depressed emotional state.
  • Disproportionate intensity and duration .
  • It affects all areas of your life.

An example of depression might be the following:

In the previous case; let’s imagine that the person locks himself up and keeps his negative thoughts for weeks, leading him to lose his self-confidence, to have the feeling of failure and to feel constant discomfort.

When the person has depression the sadness is constant and causes feelings of uselessness and loss of pleasure . Depression is a mood disorder that is characterised by a cognitive-affective impairment, negatively influencing all areas of your life. In extreme cases, there are people who do not see the meaning of life, and begin to think about suicide.

Symptoms of depression

Depression causes symptoms at the cognitive, physical and behavioral levels.

A set of symptoms appear that affect the affective sphere, showing constant sadness, decay , irritability, emotional discomfort, frustration, decrease in usual daily activity, etc. The psychologists of the PsicoAbreu team state that the physical symptoms are the ones that usually lead people to seek psychological help.

Motivational and behavioral symptoms

They are apathy, indifference, diminished capacity for enjoyment, depressed mood. Getting out of bed, going to work or school, in short, doing any daily task, is complex for a person in this state.

These patients often isolate themselves from their surroundings, decrease the frequency of social relations and have difficulties in solving problems.

2. Emotional symptoms

The most noticeable emotional symptoms are loss of self-confidence, apathy and listlessness, feelings of guilt, suicidal thoughts caused by their horrible present and their (theoretically) worse future , excessive worry, etc.

3. Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms are a common feature of people with depression. A high percentage of patients who come to the clinic present sleep problems (insomnia). Other symptoms are fatigue, loss of appetite, reduced activity and sexual desire, etc.

Causes of depression

Despite the studies carried out to find the origin of depression, the mechanisms that cause it are still not known. However, there are factors that have an influence. They are the following.

1. Personality

People who are prone to develop depression tend to be more insecure individuals, with low self-esteem, perfectionists, self-demanding

2. Environmental factor

When the person faces some economic problem, or family, work, etc.

3. Biological factor

Here are framed the brain alterations or alterations in neurotransmitters (the noncommunication of neurons in the brain).

Types of depressive disorders

The depression can be classified into different subtypes depending on the degree, intensity and duration . Depressive episodes differ by their severity, that is, the impact they have on the person’s life.

1. Major Depression

In this subtype the depressive symptoms are very intense and appear in episodes that can last for weeks or months . The depressive episode is defined by the appearance of symptoms over a continuous period that affects all areas of life.

2. Dysthymia or Dysthymic Disorder

The person suffers from prolonged depressive states lasting two or more years, and they do not incapacitate the person, although they do prevent him/her from developing his/her life normally .

The most common symptoms are loss of general pleasure, pessimism, despair, low self-esteem, irritability, social isolation, concentration and memory problems… It is one of the most common depressive disorders.

3. Psychotic depression

It occurs when depression is accompanied by some form of psychosis , such as discordance with reality, delusions or hallucinations.

4. Seasonal Affective Disorder

The depression appears during the winter, when the hours of sunlight decrease and the seasons change.

5. Postpartum depression

It occurs when a woman suffers an episode of severe depression within the first month after delivery .

6. Bipolar Disorders

Manic depression is a disorder suffered by people who have episodes of mania and depression .

The patient has ups and downs in his mood. When he is in the manic phase he usually shows feelings of grandiosity or high self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, excessive activity in different areas of his life (love, work, social), activities of high potential risk… and in the depressive phase his symptoms are opposite.

Psychological treatment

The team of psychologists of the Cabinets of Psychology Malaga PsicoAbreu is specialized in the psychological treatment of depressive disorders.

Psychological therapy is aimed at finding the cause of the depression and providing the patient with tools for the modification of thinking, emotional and behavioural factors that maintain the depressive symptomatology. The aim of the treatment carried out by the centre’s specialists is for the person to recover the meaning of their life and for this form of discomfort to disappear forever.