What is depression?

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I know I write about anxiety a lot. I would be remiss if I did not spend some time talking about depression. Anxiety and depression often occur together. I have heard it said once that depression is feeling stuck; reminiscing about the past. Depression can often be filled with guilt and shame about past things that we have done or have happened to us. It is also said Anxiety is being stuck in the future, worrying about what will or won’t happen.


Everyone feels down sometimes. So how do you know if this is simply a case of the passing blues or if it is depression? In society there is often times this sense of “why don’t they shake it off?” or “they need to pull themselves out of it”. Depression is that pit that feels so deep it is hard to see a way out. And if someone can’t see the way out then they may wonder why try? Motivation is gone. Energy is gone. Hope is gone. And it feels utterly lonely. This is depression.


The DSM-5 defines depression in this way:

A.     Five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either 1) depressed mood or 2) loss of interest or pleasure.

1.     Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g. feels sad, empty, hopeless) or observations made by others (in children and adolescents, can be irritable mood)

2.     Marked diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activites most of the day, nearly every day

3.     Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day

4.     Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day(can’t sleep or sleeping a lot)

5.     Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day

6.     Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

7.     Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day

8.     Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day

9.     Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

B.     The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important area of functioning.

C.     The episode is not attributed to physiological effects of a substance or to another medical condition

D.    The depressive episode is not better explained by another diagnosis or by grief or loss

E.     There has never been a manic episode


Depression can feel very lonely, like no one could understand. But it is actually estimated that 15% of the US population will struggle with depression at some point in their life.


Depression can feel hopeless. But it is not. There are ways to live along side depression and manage symptoms in a way to live a full and thriving life. There are supports. Here is a depression hotline if you ever need to talk, any time of day or night: 1-800-273-TALK or you can call 1-800-784-2433. And if you are looking for therapy for depression in Charlotte. I would love to be that support for you! Give me a call at 704-912-1074 and we can see if we would be a good fit. If not, we will find you someone who is!



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Theresa Leskowat MS LPC is Founder and Owner of Clear Vista Counseling. Theresa provides depression and anxiety counseling in Charlotte, NC.