Because one in six people will experience depression at some point in their lives, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. It is also highly treatable. But because our language is imprecise, knowing what depression is and is not can be confusing.

Depression is not the same as sadness, but sadness is a symptom of depression. Sadness is an appropriate response to loss or grief, where sadness comes in waves and dissipates over time. The sadness of depression, however, does not go away. And along with the sadness, depression frequently includes feelings of worthlessness or loss of self-esteem.

It’s also essential to understand that depression is a real illness, not a choice you make to be unhappy. You can’t choose your way out of being depressed any more than you can choose not to be diabetic. Regardless of where you might fall on the spectrum, treatment is available.

Because factors such as brain chemistry as well as your environment can contribute to depression, treatment will likely involve both medications and therapy.

A variety of medications are available, and finding the correct medication and dosage could take time. It’s important to provide feedback to let your doctor know how you are responding. It’s also important to know that antidepressants are not addictive; they are also not sedatives or stimulants. Antidepressants are designed to address your brain chemistry.

The bottom line is that depression is treatable. You don’t need to resign yourself to a lifetime of feeling depressed. Contact Saginaw Psychiatry to schedule an appointment and begin changing your life.