Diagnoses of clinical depression have been on the rise for the past thirty years, in part because of a growing awareness both of what actually constitutes depression and of its symptoms.
Understanding depression requires knowledge of how it differs from the normal negative emotions which every human being experiences at one time or another; clinical depression results when these negative emotions become unreasonably intense, continue for an unreasonably long period, and recur with unreasonable frequency.
The unreasonable intensity of the emotions experienced during depression go beyond the disappointment or sadness that normally accompany the negative experiences of life. They warp a depressed person's view of the world, so that every small glitch seems unbearable. Understanding depression will enable those living or working with someone depressed to recognize that what they consider an overreaction is, to the depressed person, completely justified.
All of us from day to day, and even from hour to hour, are experiencing emotional reactions to the events in our lives. Those reactions usually range from positive ones like joy, excitement, and optimism to negative ones like sadness, anger, and a sense of defeat. But most of us are able to move from emotion to emotion without going overboard in either direction.
Gauging Appropriate Emotional Reactions
Most people's emotional reactions will be in appropriate proportion to the significance of the events which cause them. We have an ingrained sense of the importance of our experiences in the bigger picture of our overall lives, and can judge when someone else's reaction is more, or less, intense that what a situation normally demands.
This intuitive sense is an important aid to understanding depression [http://www.treatdepressionhelp.com/Clinical_Depression/]. To those functioning normally, depressed people will appear to react too intensely to negative situations and not strongly enough to positive ones. Because their depression has already made them sad and lethargic, they do not have the resiliency to work through a negative situation, and will only become more depressed.
Seeing the world though the eyes of depressives means understanding that depression leaves them stuck at the negative end of the emotional spectrum; they are unable to respond to the positive experiences in their lives. So their negative emotions both last for unreasonably long periods and recur with unreasonable frequency.
The Bipolar Difference
Except for those with Bipolar Depression, whose periods of intense sadness are interrupted with periods of equally intense, and unreasonable, elation, depressed people go through each day dissatisfied and unhappy. Manic, or Bipolar Depressives, when in their positive phase, can become ecstatic over even the smallest bit of good news.