I’m depressed, when should I worry?

Have you been washing your face regularly lately? Sometimes you even burst into tears at unexpected moments and without really knowing why. You’ve lost the urge to get up/drink with friends/play sports (cross out the one that doesn’t apply). But behind this sadness was depression hidden? On this “Blue Monday” – a concept invented by marketing agencies to sell places in the sun, but with no scientific basis – we tried to learn how to distinguish between the blues and the feeling of deterioration in a deeper way.

Sadness is a normal emotion

Psychologist Isabelle Sonigo assures: “It’s normal not to be happy all the time.” Taking RER B every day, seeing more and more white hairs on our hairbrush, or learning that we will have to work until we are at least 64 are all reasons to feel depressed. “Grief is part of our life experiences. We must not put everything into psychiatry,” insists David Masson, psychiatrist at the Center Psychothérapique de Nancy and head of department at CURe* Grand-Est.

Hormonal cycles, lack of natural light in the winter, or painful life events such as bereavement or losing a job can cause low morale, which may or may not naturally lead to depression. “Even a strong state of sadness is not necessarily a sign of depression,” recalls the psychiatrist.

Track the duration and intensity

When this discomfort persists, you should start to worry. the DSM-5, the scientific reference to mental disorders indicates that depression is characterized when a bad mood lasts for more than two weeks. And contrary to popular belief, sadness is not always present in this disease. Psychiatrist Boris Chaumette explains: “Anhedonia, the loss of pleasure from activities that normally do us good, is one of the main symptoms of depression.” If a night out with friends, going to the movies, or letting off steam on the dance floor no longer excites you at all, it could be a sign that it’s more serious than you think.

In depression, sadness and loss of pleasure are accompanied by a number of other symptoms: loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, or feeling great anxiety are signals to be aware of. But to characterize this disease, the symptoms must persist and, above all, be intense. Grief can range from feeling uncertain to suicidal thoughts or even suicide attempts. The more intense these symptoms are, the more severe the depression is. Boris Chaumette adds: “There is concern when our grief affects our daily lives. Not being able to look after your children, go to work or even get out of bed should be a concern.

A break with the previous situation

The problem: it is not always easy to understand that we are divers. “A break with a person’s previous situation should also be considered,” says David Masson. In this regard, family or friends are precious. Boris Chaumette says: “Often, bystanders sound the alarm.” If you are regularly told that you look like Sadness On the contrary or if you’ve been “down in the mood” for a while, it might be helpful to listen to them.

You will tell us, “Well, my anxiety is ongoing and severe. But then what changes? » The main benefit of early diagnosis the disease is to prevent the risk of suicide. “50% of people with depression have had suicidal thoughts,” says David Masson. If anyone is interested in his psychological state, the first step is to walk through the door of his general practitioner’s office. “He knows his patient well and can see a difference in their behavior,” says David Masson.

The specialist will conduct a general examination to ensure that the patient does not suffer from another pathology that explains the symptoms, such as hypothyroidism. After assessing the severity of depression, he can refer the patient to a psychiatrist if necessary.

Detect depression as early as possible

Boris Chaumette admits: “When in doubt, it is better to consult in vain than to be depressed.” In his view, the sooner a patient is treated, the “easier” it is to recover from depression, and the consequences, both personal and professional, will be limited thereafter. Isabelle Sonigo reassures her: “Sometimes counseling is enough to reassure ourselves and understand that our sadness is not pathological. Because not all cases are serious and drug treatment is not always necessary. According to David Masson, in most cases, if accompanied by kindness, a person will gradually improve. If you don’t dare to talk about your mental suffering, consider this number: according to Inserm, one in five French people will experience at least one episode of depression in their lifetime. So you are not alone.

*Cure: University Center for Cognitive Remediation and Recovery

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