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I lost my job three months ago, now my family thinks I’m depressed and suggested I ask my doctor for an antidepressant. Am I just in a temporary low mood or is this depression?

July 4, 2016

Many people think that sadness and depression are the same thing, but depression is more than just feeling sad.

Here’s the difference…

There are easy-to-use screening tools available that can help you decide whether to seek further assessment and treatment. Your plan includes access to Change4Life through GSC’s online services. There you will find a health risk assessment that can give you a better sense of your level of emotional distress. There are also a number of educational modules concerning depression and anxiety. If you believe that you are experiencing depression, you can seek appropriate treatment, but if you’re just going through a rough patch, you can avoid unnecessary and ineffective treatment. Instead, you might want to find resources or coping tools that will help you deal with your current situation.

 To be precise, symptoms of depression include:

  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • No energy
  • Insomnia (usually early morning awakening rather than inability to fall asleep) or sleeping too much
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to give you pleasure
  • Depressed mood (may include irritability in children and adolescents)
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Feelings of either apathy or agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide2

If you are diagnosed with depression, there are many treatment strategies that can help, with the most effective being either medication or psychotherapy or a combination of both. Psychotherapies that have been demonstrated to be effective for depression include cognitive behavioural therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy

Drugs are most helpful for people with severe depression; they’re not as effective for mild to moderate depression (or for relieving sadness). Because all drugs have side-effects, we have to balance the benefit of a drug versus the risks. For mild forms of depression, ongoing support and monitoring, psychosocial interventions and lifestyle modifications should be the first lines of treatment.3

Exercise can also help people with depression and sadness – activity is typically part of depression treatment and can actually be as effective as drugs and counselling for some people.4

So… it’s like we say in at GSC: Exercise is medicine. Whether you’re depressed, sad, have a chronic health condition, or are perfectly healthy, exercise is good for everyone.