Is There a Difference Between Depression and a Slump?


Is There a Difference Between Depression and a Slump?

In this series of blogs, we explore the realities of anxiety and depression through the lens of real-world first-person narratives from anonymous teens. What else can we learn about these issues? How can we work to overcome them together? Let’s talk about it.

If anything in life is certain, it’s that life can be tough. Troubles can get anyone down and everyday stressors are almost impossible to avoid. Sometimes it feels like you just can’t catch a break.

But what if most days start to feel like an uphill battle? There’s an important difference between falling into a bit of a slump and feeling that your mental state is affecting your friendships or school work over time.

Depression can be a scary word, but just remember that knowledge is power in many situations. We spoke to Dr. Ruby H. Barghini, MD, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Temple University, about identifying depression.

Is it More Than a Bad Day?

Emotions come and go, but what’s different about depression is that the effects are less transient. Dr. Barghini explains, “with a more severe illness like depression, it’s going to be most days — all day, every day, you’re having symptoms.”

Having trouble separating from a negative feeling can make maintaining relationships or doing everyday chores feel like moving mountains. During a slump, it can feel like life is dragging, but eventually life starts to feel more normal.

There’s no certain timeline to follow, but depression will begin to affect everyday life in a more serious way. Relationships can start to crumble, the future seems hopeless, and even showering can be too much of a burden. With depression, life can feel dull.

Can Slumps Turn into Depression?

There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to someone’s mental health. But how can a depressive episode start? Well, oftentimes, it doesn’t just come out of nowhere:

“Oftentimes there is some sort of stresser — especially for the first episode of a depressive illness, there’s usually an identifiable trigger,” says Dr. Barghini. “If you have that first depressive episode, you’re more likely to have others down the road.”

Anyone can fall into a slump, but depressive episodes tend to be reoccuring once they develop. A temporary feeling of sadness can turn into a depression for some if they have other lingering medical issues, if depression runs in their family, or if they don’t have the proper support system.

If you feel that you could be depressed, don’t lose hope. There are resources out there, and no one has to endure it alone.

So, is Seasonal Depression Real?

The term seasonal depression can be hard to understand. Can someone’s mental state really be altered by the seasons? The short answer is yes, and it can be a factor when it comes to depressive episodes.

Seasonal depression is diagnosable, and it’s most commonly referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD has its own treatment method, but it can take several years to properly diagnose.

“It has to be a pattern,” says Dr. Barghini, “you’re going to monitor someone over at least a couple years to see if it’s always at that time of year.”

That doesn’t make seasonal depression any less real, it just makes life a bit different for those who suffer from it. Remember, no two people will have the same experience — but learning from one another’s experience is important.

As a teen, life can be hectic and feel unmanageable at times. Everyone experiences depression in different ways, and there is no shame in asking for help at any point. Michael’s Giving H.A.N.D. is here as a resource — you’re never alone in your struggles.