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Feeling Down vs. Depression: Is There a Difference?

Feeling Down vs. Depression: Is There a Difference?

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?

Rationalizations

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.

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.

Comments

  • jclwc
    8 months ago

    Not sure if depression or not but I’ve been in a major funk lately meds don’t seem to be working. Most of my pain has been my ankles and feet it’s very hard to walk every step I take hurts! I miss the me I was before this disease progressed. Is anyone else having feet issues? I have other pains but the feet are the worst!

  • Eileen B moderator
    8 months ago

    It’s awful that you’re in so much pain, jclwc. I wish I could take it away! You’re not alone in having such painful feet, many others in our community share this problem. We have a few articles about foot pain and the available treatments, https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/psa-symptoms/foot-pain/ and https://psoriatic-arthritis.com/living/improving-your-plantar-fasciitis/. Have you been working with a rheumatologist to find some relief? -Eileen, Psoriatic-Arthritis.com Team

  • imschmarte
    9 months ago

    Hi dlynn! I have said this once on here, and here goes again! Clinical depression IS a disease also. I have my own collection of autoimmune diseases. Many years ago, I was feeling down and blue. But I didn’t see it for what it truly was. I cut out family and friends, and all activities that I enjoyed. I no longer ate, or slept. One night in the middle of the night, I went out to the garage, got in my car and started it up. And sat waiting for death. I kept seeing in my mind, my mother, always saying only cowards kill themselves. They don’t think about the one who has to find them, or about their families. And I was never a coward. So I shut the car off, went in the house, called my sister and told her what I just did. She ordered me to her house, and in the morning, she called my doctor, and very soon my doctor told me I was clinically depressed. She put me on Prozac, and within 2 weeks, I was myself again. I tell this difficult story again, in the hope it will help even ONE person. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please see your doctor immediately. Anti-depression drugs work miracles. They won’t make your life, your diseases, any better, but they can save your life, literally.

  • Rebecca moderator
    9 months ago

    Very, very true, @iamschmarte. So glad you were able to get the help you needed and that your sister was there for you. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • pbarry23
    11 months ago

    I’m sorry you have to suffer, I’m sorry we all have this disease. Wishing you a better day.

  • jmaguirre15
    11 months ago

    In a funk, depressed, down, I’ve been all of those off and on for years. I went from being able to move and do things without thinking, should I rest first, do I need someone with me, will I be able to dress myself today and will my kids tell me I’m being lazy for not moving or cleaning like I used to. Psoriasis and PsA have been in my life almost 35 years, I’ve stopped meds because they didn’t work, I’ve pulled myself up and tried new ones, and I know the Positive Me has been replaced with a negative person. It’s just a lifetime rollercoaster. But I look forward to good days and watching my kids and grandkids live their life will I sit and support them wishing I could be that free again.

  • Rebecca moderator
    11 months ago

    I’m so sorry, jmaguirre….PsA is such a game changer and I think your description of “roller coaster” is the perfect one. Hang in there, we’re here for you.

  • mickey
    1 year ago

    Does frustration fit in this conversation? My hands are just about useless. I can’t use my weights anymore because I can’t even hold simple 10 lb dumbbells. I get frustrated, angry then depressed because I can’t do my exercise routine that I have been doing for 40 years. I get angry at myself, even though the Drs tell me it’s not my fault. I didn’t choose to get Psa. I’m soon to be 78 years old and the more frustrated I get the angrier I get the more depressed I get. I don’t know how to get out of this loop.

  • FullBlownPSA
    8 months ago

    Heat, movement, soft hand exercise balls, stretching, yoga, deep breathing, hot baths and showers, aromatherapy, tuning negativity and frustration out, fresh air, walking, just telling people you have an arthritic/AI condition which causes you lots of pain, stiffness, fatigue, and frustration so please do not add to my stress level by sayin something irritating. Get a good Rheumatologist, try Rxs you have not tried, last resort…very expensive, stem cell therapy.

  • Leta
    1 year ago

    I have suffered with a Major Depressive Disorder since I was 15 yrs old. I also have Fibro and PsA along with a host of other problems. I am now 70 going on 16. I can usually figure out when it is really depression and not just a bad day. The most important thing you can do for yourself is get help for it. If you don’t like the first doctor you see, keep looking for one that you do like. Then trust then, take the meds they want you too and give them a chance. Left untreated, not only will it get worse, it may get so bad that it takes a long time to get better. I could never have gotten through all life that has been thrown at me without my friend, my psychiatrist. There is no shame in needing one. Praise yourself for doing all it takes.

  • dlynn
    1 year ago

    I feel like I do have depression but don’t want to admit it. If I do, I feel like it’s won, I’ve failed at managing my disease. I don’t tell anyone, not even my sisters. I love reading the stories of other with similar situations. Makes me not feel so alone, someone else knows exactly what I’m feeling. Sometimes I want to tell my doctor, but I can never get out the words. I think she sees it sometimes, she gave me meds but I don’t take it. I’m afraid it will put me in a fog or make me feel weird and I already take so much medicine that I can’t stand the thought of adding more. Thank you for your stories, they do help other people just like me, wanting reassurance that we are not weak or a failure. PSA is hard to live with
    but incouraging words can make such a difference.

  • VickiN moderator
    1 year ago

    @dlynn, I’m sending you a big hug through my screen. You are not weak, and you are certainly not a failure. It takes a warrior’s heart to get through each day with PsA, so please know how incredibly strong you are. I can understand not feeling comfortable enough to open up to friends or family, so I hope you know that you can share all your fears and sadness with us when you need an outlet (and of course your joys and successes too). Have you thought about talking to a professional about your feelings? You certainly shouldn’t have to go through all these big emotions alone. All the best, sending some sunshine and healing thoughts your way,
    -Victoria, Community Moderator

  • dlynn
    1 year ago

    Victoria, Thank you for your kind words, I’ll continue to fight the battle and maybe I’ll get the courage to talk to my doctor. Taking one day at a time. 🙂

  • Leta
    1 year ago

    One thing I learned is that you are not alone. Ask for help when you need it. realize that that is you had a broken foot, you would see a doctor. Simple and same thing. Depression can be helped and you do not have to feel this way. And don’t worry what people might think or say, realize just how strong you are to take the steps to get well. Hugs and more hugs, we are all in this together.

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