Feeling Down vs. Depression: Is There a Difference?

Last updated: September 2018

I don’t write in too many specific terms about the particulars of my day to day life with psoriatic arthritis. With the exception of my husband, most of the people that I love the most don’t find their way into my writing. I don’t often write about the intimate details of sleepless nights, or overwhelmingly difficult conversations.

Welcome to my little corner of crazy

I don’t typically want to expose the world to my little corner of crazy if I can help it. I was raised to keep “private” affairs “private” and not to discuss family matters with just anyone. And really, I believe all that to be true. I believe that there are some things that the world just doesn’t need to know, and private business should be just that.

But what if what is going on in my “private” life can help someone else? What if the story that I have to tell can make someone feel a little less alone, a little less scared, a little less afraid? What about that? Is it okay then, to share the story that may be hard to tell. Is it okay to tell the story that may infringe on some more private moments? I believe yes, in the name of helping a fellow human being, I say yes. So here goes…

Feeling down vs depression

I was asked to sit down the other day for a “talk.” You know the one I’m talking about, a discussion much more important than the old standby, “How about that weather?” My husband was the one nominated for the inglorious task of having a “discussion” with me. The ones I love the most in the world have been “talking”, and they are “concerned” about me. They think I have depression.

Wait. What? Me? I’m fine. I don’t know what you are talking about…

Or do I?

Am I?

What are you seeing that I’m not?


Of course, I’m fine. Okay, well maybe I have been a little frustrated lately. Perhaps a little angry. Yes, maybe a little quicker to raise my voice than I normally am. But what do you expect? I’ve been fighting this disease with everything I have for so long. And I’m so tired. I’m so scared. I hurt, every single day.

Put yourself in my shoes. You wouldn’t be acting like “yourself” either!

I wanted to rail, rant, and scream, “You just don’t get it! You wouldn’t be a lovely ray of sunshine either! Who are you to judge me? Who are you to accuse me of being ‘depressed?’ I’ve just hit a rough patch. I’ll be fine.

Or will I? How do you define the line between feeling a bit “down” and being clinically depressed? I could share the answer you would get from any professional in the field posed with the same question. The American Psychiatric Association defines depression on their website as:

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Defining depression

Hmmmm. Not sure about you, but I don’t find that particular definition very comforting. Of course I feel sad. Of course I can’t do the activities that I once enjoyed, and it is difficult to function at work and at home. But is it depression or am I just feeling a natural and understandable sadness over everything I feel I have lost? In my head, I know that because of psoriatic arthritis I am at a ridiculously higher risk for having depression. But am I just sad, or am I depressed?

So many ifs

I keep thinking that if I just hang on, I will turn the corner. If I find the right treatment, if I am able to manage my symptoms better. If I can open my eyes, just one day, and not feel like my body has been beaten by a ghost while I slept. Then I’ll feel better. Then I won’t be sad. Then I won’t be so angry.

Call it what you will

Down. Sad. In a funk. Whatever you call it, it can be hard to see clearly. It can be hard to differentiate between simply being in a funk and being depressed. Either way, if the question enters your brain, if others are concerned, or if you just aren’t coming out of it, speak to someone. Get help. Get another opinion. Talk with others who have been there, someone that may understand. Know that you aren’t alone, perhaps we are both in this boat together.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Psoriatic-Arthritis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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