Feeling “blue” occasionally is common to all of us and eventually passes. It is not to be confused with depression, which is a common, serious, but treatable illness.

Maybe you’ve messed up at work and lost an important contract, put on kilos instead of losing them on a diet, your best friend is angry with you, or your girlfriend has just broken up with you. Now you feel like there is no tomorrow; you are “down in the dumps” and don’t think things can get any worse.
All these are normal and legitimate reasons for feeling sad for a while, and they can just as quickly disappear after a good night’s sleep.

Depression is an entirely different kettle of fish.

What differentiates “the blues” from depression is the duration of symptoms. Someone who’s feeling ‘blue’ today may be feeling better a few days later; the difference with depression, however, is that the sadness or the “blues” do not go away; they persist for two weeks or longer.
Sometimes, a traumatic event like a hijacking or the loss of a loved one could be the reason why someone feels depressed. In such cases, and depending on the severity of the symptoms, a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist will be better equipped to help you work through your feelings, make a diagnosis, and offer treatment.
Some of the symptoms of depression include depressed mood, irritability, loss of interest or pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed, disturbed sleep, appetite, libido and energy, and thoughts of suicide.
Today is World Mental Health Day, and you can check your mental health by completing a questionnaire on the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s website, www.sadag.org.