Could Your Bad Mood Be Something More Serious?

Monday, January 30, 2017
Could Your Bad Mood Be Something More Serious?

Having a bad day is one thing… but feeling on a downer day in and day out is more likely something a more serious issue. Is it possible you are chronically depressed?


Chronic depression is more than just feeling down and low; it’s a disease that requires serious attention. So, if you find yourself having ‘just one of those days’ just about everyday, you may be among the millions of sufferers of chronic depression.


Chronic depression (Dysthymia) is a less severe form of depression.  It is different from major depression in that the symptoms linger for a longer period of time, perhaps years. Those who suffer from chronic depression function normally in their day-to-day activities, but seem consistently unhappy.





It’s in the genes

Although scientists have not been able to identify a "depression" gene, the family tree does hold clues about the roots of chronic depression. Research has shown that chronic depression is likely to strike more than once in an immediate family.


Major life changes

Depression can be caused by a major negative life event that is either very stressful or very upsetting or both! Negative life events may include losing a job, death of a loved one, marital discord, or financial problems.


Stress, stress, stress

The effect of the general stresses of life on both the mind and the body should not be underestimated. Studies have demonstrated that the stresses of marital difficulties are associated with depression as is the stress of unemployment and its associated financial burdens.


All in your head

Depression sufferers do have changes in their brains. The hippocampus, a small part of the brain, vital to the storage of memories, is smaller in people with depression. A smaller hippocampus has fewer serotonin (a chemical messenger that allows communication between nerves in the brain and the body) receptors.

Detecting depression

The biggest hurdle in diagnosing and treating depression is recognizing that you suffer from it.  Symptoms are the same as those of major depression, and include difficulty sleeping, loss of interest or the ability to enjoy oneself , excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness, loss of energy or fatigue, difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions, changes in appetite, observable mental and physical sluggishness, thoughts of death or suicide.


If you are depressed and have had symptoms for more than two weeks, you should see your doctor or a psychiatrist. There is no blood, X-ray, or other laboratory test that can be used to diagnose chronic depression. A mental health specialist generally makes the diagnosis based on your symptoms. While major depression and chronic depression share the same symptoms, in the case of chronic depression symptoms will have lasted for longer and be less severe.


Chronic depression is a serious but treatable illness. Some people with chronic depression do well with psychotherapy or "talk" therapy alone, but in some cases this is not adequate and antidepressant medication may need to be prescribed.


Depression is the fourth most disabling illness in the world yet we understand remarkably little about what causes it or how it unfolds in the brain.  It is not something to be taken lightly. If you find yourself consistently in a depressed state of mind and suffer from the aforementioned symptoms, seek professional help.