Anxiety often gets a bad rap. It comes in when we have doubt and fear, or apprehension about the uncertainty of the future like those experienced in the relative discomfort of social situations, job interviews, life transition, or even public speaking. It’s true that too much anxiety can leave us feeling exhausted and frustrated. Ordinary (or existential) anxiety comes and goes, but if feelings associated with anxiety are extreme, last longer than six months, and interfere with how we function, it suggests there is more going on and might benefit from additional support.
Feeling down from time to time is a natural part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, we may have depression. Depression is more than just sadness in response to life’s struggles and setbacks; it changes how we think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can interfere with our ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. Trying to get through the day can be overwhelming.
Depression is relatively common. In fact, depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States among people ages 15 – 44 (NIMH). There is a range of symptoms from feelings of anger to apathy or emptiness and hopelessness. Left untreated, depression can become a serious health condition. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression and part of our perception, not the reality of our situation.
Depression is not just a feeling of sadness that can diminish over time, but a condition that can endure for weeks, months, or even years.