Being depressed does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from a clinical disorder. The sense of mental anguish, worry and loneliness we can all feel from time to time is a normal part of life, just as is enjoying feelings of levity, joy and pleasure. In other words, being down is just as natural as being up. However, when people are in low moods for prolonged periods of time or when there is nothing that would account for their negative mental state – such as sadness at a relationship breakdown or suffering from grief
, for example – then it may be that a clinically depressive state is at play. This can only be diagnosed by a professional as can other depressive mental states, such as the extreme mood swings that are associated with bipolar disorder, something that used to be called manic depression by clinicians.
There are numerous reasons for suffering from depressive states. Sometimes, they can be induced by substance abuse or sometimes from another type of medical condition. Some people will go through them because they have a particular mental health disorder, such as hypomania, that is characterised by depressive moods even though they are not clinically depressed. Whatever the underlying cause of such mental states, professional help can make them less severe and, in many cases, speed the onset of a more normal mental state without such low moods.
That said, offering an accurate diagnosis to someone who is depressed is not always easy. There are all sorts of symptoms that can lead to a misdiagnosis which is why it will often take multiple sessions to hone in on the right sort of treatment. In some cases, the use of drugs to rebalance the brain's chemical make up will be appropriate but, in others, talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) will be a preferred route. Many famous people have suffered from clinical depression, such as the humorist Spike Milligan, the actor Linda Hamilton and the politician Winston Churchill, to name but three.