Depression – we have all heard the word many times. In the past three years, we have all felt sadness. Feeling sad, unmotivated, or hopeless is common in daily life. 

But what is the difference between sadness and depression? Feeling sad does not last as long as depression. In depression, you might also experience things like not feeling hungry or feeling hungrier than usual. You may also be sleeping a lot or not enough, and feeling hopeless. Hopelessness feels like the things that you used to enjoy are no longer fun. These feelings are different from normal sadness when they last for long periods of time – from a couple of weeks to many months. 

It is important to screen for depression regularly. You can ask your doctor about depression during regular care appointments, sick appointments, after scary experiences, or after childbirth. These are not the only times to screen for depression, though. You should always let your doctor know if you begin to feel the symptoms of depression. It is important to check in with your doctor or someone you trust about these feelings to prevent yourself from experiencing a more serious form of depression. Serious symptoms of depression can lead to fatal outcomes, such as suicide. 

Depression screenings ask a lot of questions. You can expect to be asked about 10 basic questions. Most screenings will have you rate how you are feeling on a scale. Some things you may be asked about include: 

  • Are you still interested in things you enjoy?
  • Do you feel down or sad?
  • Do you feel bad about yourself?
  • Are you struggling to pay attention?
  • Are you slow moving? Are you jumpy?
  • Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings?

 It is important to remember when answering these questions that you should tell the truth to your doctor so that they can help you. If you are asking these questions to someone else, remember that these questions will not increase chances of suicide. 

It may be difficult to know if you have depression without the help of a professional. Doctors and therapists can diagnose depression for you. You can take an at-home screening before you go to see if you might have depression. You can access the Healthy Minds Philly depression screening here. After taking a screening, make sure to reach out to a doctor if you are concerned.

 If you are feeling suicidal, the Suicide Helpline is available all the time by calling 1-800-273-8255.

 You can also call the Philadelphia Crisis Line anytime at 215-685-6440

You are not alone.

About the Author: Lizzie Birmingham is a research technician in a psychology research lab and is pursuing a master’s of social work. She has experience working in substance use and mental health treatment centers in Philadelphia for over four years. She hopes to continue working in the city of Philadelphia upon graduation.