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Am I feeling sad, or is this real depression?
August 16, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY — "Go out and get some sun! Work up a little sweat!" This is usually good advice for just about anything that ails you. Even clinical depression.

Well, it can’t hurt.

On the other hand, fresh air, sunshine, smiling more, having a positive mental attitude, which are all good and wonderful things — and helpful as all get out — will not cure clinical depression.

But let’s not get all needlessly negative now. No need to call out the dike patrol when a Dutch boy with a finger will do.

Let’s talk about being sad

It happens to everybody. I used to get sad when I watched the "Sound of Music" and I thought of those poor people having to live in the mountains of Austria when they had a lovely villa by the river just sitting there.

Death can be a killer — as far as sadness goes. Losing one's teeth before the big meeting can make for a very sad day. Serious issues gone awry are, seriously, very sad. But this kind of sad usually does not make one want to go into the basement and lay in the corner of the storage room for a month. Little by little, day after day, normal everyday sad gets better.

Here is what it may look like to be sad.

There are other things as well, but these seem to be universal. Now, here is a list of what may happen when you are clinically depressed.

No, you are not seeing double. Often the symptoms are the same. What seems to be the clincher is the duration and the intensity.

Of course symptoms of clinical depression comprise a longer list: feelings of suicide, diminished sex drive, and if a sibling or a parent has been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, the chances are high that you might have it as well.


Some years ago there weren’t many solutions or courses of positive action due to limited medical knowledge. But today we have options.

Take the Cosmo test

Well, maybe not Cosmo. Psychology Today? Better. Online there are many quizzes and tests you can take that will give you an idea of where you stand. They ask, does this happen, or this, and how do you feel, and what time do you get up and such. This is not in place of professional help.

I will say that again. This is not in place of professional help. But these questionnaires can give you an idea of what you are up against. Come to think of it, stay away from fashion magazines and stick to a few good websites, or ask your doctor for a depression questionnaire. All those skinny people posing in nice shoes is depressing.

Keep your own history/journal

This is important because when you eventually do see a professional for needed help and guidance, they will ask you for a bit of history: Is there any depression in your family, are you on any new medications, and such.

The first few times I went into the doctor, my answers to these important questions was, "Uh … I don’t know."

"Uh … I don’t know" is not going to help you. Keep a small journal, or write down your feelings for a week or more so you have an idea of what you are up against. Share this with your health care professional. You will have better results than … well, you know.

Schedule an appointment with a health care professional

You could start out with your family physician and let him recommend someone, or he may know how to help right off. If you are one of those people who don’t want to share personal information with a second party, let me give you this by way of advice.

Knock it off.

Last of all, understand that though things seem like they can never get better, they can. It seems like life is at its darkest, but it isn’t.

Life is good — understand that it’s your perceptions that are off. Professionals can help your perceptions to be spot on again.

About the Author: Davison Cheney

Davison Cheney deals with being bipolar. He writes the "Prodigal Dad" family humor column weekly for See his other writings at and on Twitter @DavisonCheney.