ZocdocAnswersDo you have to be sad all the time to be depressed?

Question

Do you have to be sad all the time to be depressed?

I've been pretty sad lately, and I cry everyday for no reason. I always want to be alone. I have gone full days without eating because I didn't have the energy to get food, I wasn't particularly hungry, and because I couldn't decide what to eat. The thing that really scared me was the violin. Normally it's my stress release, but I hurt my shoulder and had to take a month off. Now I can't play for 2 minutes without crying and having to stop. It terrifies me. But I still feel normal sometimes. I get excited about my books and TV, and sometimes I laugh with my friends. So I don't know if I'm depressed or just being dramatic and attention seeking. I feel like I don't deserve to have depression because my life is normal. Parents and siblings that love me, good friends, good grades. I should feel wonderful. Please help me. I don't know if this is normal and I'm just bad at dealing with life, or if there's something wrong with me.

Answer

It sounds like you are at a minimum experiencing some life stressors and some significant mood swings. It also sounds like at times you have low energy and appetite. These symptoms could be part of a depression, or they could be part of a stress response. Either way, it is a good idea to seek help. The symptoms are clearly bothering you and it would be prudent to get some outside perspective. If you have a primary care doctor that you know and trust, this would be a great place to start. Primary care doctors are very skilled at helping patients dealing with stress and change in their lives, and they can also manage many cases of depression, anxiety, and other common psychiatric problems. On the other hand, if you have a therapist or counselor that you know, that would also be a safe and effective place to start. They'll be able to assess the current patterns in your life, look at your coping mechanisms, and help you make some positive steps forward. The only error that you can make at this stage is failing to reach out for help, so please call your doctor or counselor today to set up an appointment.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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