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If you’ve been wondering ‘Do I have depression?’, you’re not alone. Many millions of people in Australia and around the world experience depression. Some, from time to time. And some, for ongoing periods or most of their lives. Understanding the difference between things like sadness, stress, anxiety, or other common problems and depression, however, is the key to getting the right kind of help. In fact, knowing whether you’ve got depression can be life-changing.t. 

Do I have depression or am I just sad? 

Sadness is a part of depression, but the two are not the same thing. Unfortunately, many people mistake their depression for sadness, thinking perhaps they’re just feeling low. Although everyone is different, and every reason for being sad has its own severity, the feeling of sadness should be fairly short-lived and goes away with time. 

The kinds of things that may cause sadness include (but are by no means limited to): 

  • The loss of a loved one (which often causes grief – a more intense sadness)
  • Failing an exam
  • Missing out on a job or losing a job 
  • Experiencing a disappointment 
  • Arguing with a friend or family member 
  • Illness or injury 
  • Being stuck at home due to social distancing restrictions 

If you’ve experienced something like one of the above recently and are feeling low, that is completely normal and to be expected. If your sadness lasts more than a few weeks or longer than you’d normally expect before feeling better, it may be time to seek some help. 

Hint: If you’re asking yourself ‘Do I have depression?’ it could be a sign that it’s time to see someone who can help you understand more about how you’re feeling, what it means, and most importantly, how you can start to feel better. 

Am I depressed or just stressed? 

Stress, just like sadness, is a normal part of life and something we will all experience from time to time. Even people who seem to always ‘roll with the punches’ and take things in their stride most likely experience stress and sadness every now and then. How people display their feelings of stress, sadness, or even grief varies greatly and you might not even know when someone is feeling this way. However, just like sadness, stress that doesn’t improve with time can be something more concerning. Lingering stress or an ongoing sense of dread can be signs of anxiety or depression, or both. 

Depression and anxiety are often linked. More than half of Australians will experience a mental health concern in their lifetimes, with around 3 million adults experiencing anxiety or depression or both, in any one year. But how do you know the difference between stress and anxiety or depression? 

If a feeling of sadness doesn’t improve over time, and gets worse or begins to be compounded by feelings of anxiety, you may be experiencing depression and/or anxiety. Very often, people will experience both at the same time. And it’s no picnic. Experiencing depression and/or anxiety can mean:

  • Feeling sad or depressed for much of the time
  • Feeling low even when there is no obvious reason 
  • Feeling an ongoing sense of dread about the future 
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless, and like there’s nothing you can do
  • Experiencing panic attacks
  • Being more tired and lethargic than normal 
  • Having trouble concentrating 
  • Increased blood pressure and heart palpitations 
  • Sudden increase or loss of appetite 
  • Weight gain or weight loss beyond the normal fluctuations 
  • Not enjoying activities that would normally bring feelings of joy 
  • Withdrawal from loved ones 
  • Trouble completing tasks at work
  • Difficulty getting up in the morning 
  • Trouble maintaining relationships, jobs, and other commitments 

These are just a few of the many negative effects that depression and anxiety can have on a person. If you’re experiencing more than one or two of these and are wondering ‘Do I have depression?’, it could be time to get some help from a counsellor or psychologist. This brings us to our next point.

When should I see a counsellor for depression? 

If you’re experiencing what you suspect might be depression or anxiety, it’s time to reach out for some help. Gold Coast Counselling services from Integrated Health Specialists can help you to discover whether you are suffering from depression or anxiety, and then get started on helping you overcome it. That’s right – there is help available! And the sooner you start working on things, the better. As soon as depression or anxiety symptoms start interfering with your life, making it hard for you to enjoy the things you onced loved, or to keep up with your work, social life, or health, then it’s time to reach out. In fact, even if you think you might be experiencing stress, sadness, or grief, rather than depression or anxiety, a Gold Coast Counsellor can help. 

We also offer Gold Coast Psychology services, should psychology be better suited to your needs. For more information on the difference between psychology and counselling read our blog article here

What can I do if I think I have depression? 

You should see a counsellor or psychologist as soon as possible if you think you’re experiencing depression, and nothing can substitute proper help from a professional. But there are also some things you can do from home, either before you’ve had a chance to see a counsellor, or in between appointments. We publish blogs every month on our blog page, and share tips and wisdom from our qualified and experienced practitioners

For more information about depression, we recommend reading some of our other articles, including these: 

Why Depression Can Be Hard to Spot 

The Best Way to Stop Depression from Recurring 

How Counselling Helped Me: 3 Personal Stories

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen