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According to the National Institute on Mental Health, clinical depression is defined as: “a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for a least two weeks.”

What is the Difference Between Feeling Unhappy and Being Clinically Depressed?

It is natural to feel sad or unhappy in response to loss, disappointment or unwanted changes.  Some may even describe this natural and temporary response to a difficult situation as feeling ‘depressed’.  However this is not necessarily clinical depression.   Depending on the circumstances and the individual, these feelings tend to be temporary, normally resolving without any significant intervention and result in a return to ‘feeling normal again.’

However if you find the feelings of sadness are lasting more than two weeks and are beginning to interfere with your sleep, work, study, and ability to enjoy activities you normally find pleasurable you may be experiencing clinical depression and, we recommend you seek professional support. 

Signs And Symptoms
(from NIMH)

If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts If you are at risk of harming yourself, please call for help immediately, or go to your nearest emergency room:
    • 911;
    • National Suicide prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK
    • 434-972-1800 Region X 24/7 hotline;

It Is Important To Remember – DEPRESSION Is Treatable and You Are Not Alone:

If you think you may be experiencing depression, the first step is to reach out to help.  We encourage you to contact our FEAP office to speak with a consultant: 434.243.2643.  You can also reach out to your primary care provider or a mental health provider outside of FEAP.  If you aren’t sure what to say when you call, consider something like, “I haven’t been feeling like myself lately and I think I’d like to talk to a professional about this.”  OR “I think I might have depression and I would like help.”



There are many resources for support and treatment options to address symptoms of depression.  FEAP can help you decide which option is best for you as well as help you access resources:

    1. interpersonal therapy 
    2. medication
    3. brain stimulation therapies

Links To Additional Resources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-what-you-need-to-know-12-2015/index.shtml National Institute of Mental health “Depression: What you need to know”

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools mental health America online screening tools

 http://helphappenshere.org Help Happens Here