Feeling Depressed Versus Having Depression
It's true that everyone experiences feelings of depression from time to time. However, feeling depressed isn't the same as having depression. This is an important distinction.
Though feeling depressed can be a pretty unpleasant experience, it's actually a healthy response to certain events. For example, if you've ever experienced the loss of a loved one or the end of a romantic relationship, you probably felt sad, upset, or just generally down afterward. This is perfectly normal and, in fact, a healthy emotional response. The key is how you deal with the feelings of depression and how you express those emotions thereafter.
If you are mentally healthy, you will experience a down time and say, “Man, I'm having a bad day. I sure hope tomorrow gets better.” You accept that circumstances may be out of your control or accept some responsibility for what's happening, if that's appropriate. In any case, you know that, come the dawn, you're going to give it another go and see what you can make out of the new day.
If you suffer from depression, on the other hand, you sink lower and lower with each negative experience. Your entire mood tends toward the negative rather than the positive. Every bad thing that happens to you only serves to reinforce your already gloomy outlook.
That feeling of being down in the dumps means that you're depressed. It's part of being human. Some days go better than others, and you may even enjoy feeling sorry for yourself, at times, when the world seems to be conspiring to get you down. In emotionally healthy people, this mood soon passes.
Whether caused by hormones, as in premenstrual syndrome (PMS); a stressful situation, such as a romantic breakup; problems at work; an argument with a spouse or partner; or getting some bad news about your income taxes, those funks are transitory. You kiss and make up or you find another romantic partner. You resolve the problems at work or you find another job. You soldier on through the menstrual cycle and emerge on the other side your own sunny self.
You can see the low points for what they are — isolated occurrences. It's when these moods last more than two weeks that being depressed can mean having depression.