Astra Psychology LocationSuite 4 | Level 5, 35 Buckingham St, Surry Hills, NSW   Astra Psychology Email   Astra Psychology Phone 0478 807 961     Astra Psychology Linked In

Why Am I Feeling Depressed?

Aug 3, 2022 | Managing Emotions

Depression is a common mental health condition. It is estimated that about one in every five Australians experience some form of mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety, in any one year. The reasons why someone may be feeling depressed can vary from person-to-person. We will talk further about this. But before we do, we need to look at depression and sadness, and ask ourselves, is depression the same as sadness?


Depression and Sadness

There is a difference between depression and sadness. Recognising those differences can help us. Sadness is a normal reaction to many adverse life events. People feel sad in response to losses, disappointments, problems. It is normal to feel sad from time-to-time. There might be people in our society (e.g. advertisers) who tell us that we can only be normal or good or living a full life if we are happy all the time – don’t believe it. Feeling sad is okay, if we are feeling sad about things that ought to make us feel sad.

However, depression is different. If we are feeling sad over a long period of time, longer than what should be expected, it is possible that we are now experiencing depression. There are no fixed timelines to sadness. We cannot say to ourselves that we should be feeling sad for a precise number of hours, days or even weeks. However, if we have the feeling that it is going on for too long and that nothing seems to shake our sadness, the chances are that we might be depressed.

Sadness is an emotion. It is a feeling. Depression is more than just an emotion. When we are depressed, we have sad feelings, but we also experience other issues. For example, if someone is depressed, they frequently feel tired or even exhausted. They often lack motivation. Sleep is frequently disturbed and there can be changes in their weight. There are a number of these and other signs that set sadness apart from depression.

Usually, when we are sad, it is about a specific event or loss. Whenever we think about that event or loss, we feel sad. In other respects, though, our life might be relatively fine. Depression is different. Depression affects most of our life or even our whole life. It gets into everything we do.

Depression is much more than sadness.


What Sets Depression Apart

Depression is different from simply being sad in many ways. Yes, it usually involves feelings of sadness, of being low. Additionally, it can include the following:

Low motivation. People who are depressed lose the drive to do many things. They lose their mojo. Most things, sometimes everything, seems to be an effort.

Low levels of interest. If we lose interest in activities that we once found interesting, it may be a sign that we are experiencing depression. What used to be fun or what used to be enjoyable or interesting is no longer the same for us – it is no longer fun, enjoyable or interesting.

Weight loss or gain. Unplanned weight loss or weight gain can sometimes be caused by depression. Some people eat more than usual when they are depressed, and they can also exercise less. This results from a combination of wanting to eat to feel a bit better (comfort eating) and losing interest in activities. As a result, they can gain weight, and this can make them feel even more depressed. Other people eat less because they are feeling so low that they could not even bother to cook for themselves or eat.

Disturbed sleep. When we experience a range of psychological issues, including depression, one of the signs can be changes in our sleeping patterns. When someone is depressed, they may sleep more, or they may have trouble sleeping. There sometimes can be a connection between sleep problems and depression.

Personality issues. Some people by their nature may be more likely to be depressed than others. They may have a personality which tends to be melancholic. They may be inhibited and have fewer goals in life. These are some of the personality traits that have been linked with depression.

Low self-esteem. Similar to personality issues, low self-esteem is common amongst people with depression. Some people by their nature may have low self-esteem. Or they may have reduced self-esteem because of life events; an accident has reduced their ability to do things, they have a changed appearance, they have been rejected. A negative life experience can affect our self-esteem – the way in which we value ourselves and see ourselves – which can then lead to depression and/or be a sign that we have depression.

Thoughts of death or dying. It is not unusual to sometimes think about death or of dying. But if people think about it more deeply or more often, it can be a sign of depression. It is a concern if it is accompanied by thoughts of helplessness or hopelessness. If you are having these types of thoughts, help is available. If you know someone who may be having these types of thoughts, find out if you can help. For more resources, look here or here.

Using drugs or alcohol. The relationship between drugs or alcohol and depression can be complicated. Some people try to help themselves when they are depressed by using drugs or alcohol. For them, it can be a way of coping, by escaping from the pain. For other people, it is the use or over-use of drugs or alcohol that cause the depression. Either way, the use of alcohol or drugs does not help – it only makes things worse.

Loneliness. Loneliness is different from being alone. We can be alone without feeling lonely. On the other hand, we can be surrounded by people and feel lonely. If we feel lonely it is often because we don’t feel connected with others – we don’t have the types of relationships that make us feel secure, comforted and content.


Why Am I Feeling this Way?

The reason/s that someone may feel depressed are complex and varied.

Depression can occur because:-

We have experienced a loss. This could be the loss of a loved one, friend or other family member. Or it could be the loss of a pet, a job, or our health.

Poor physical health. If we are experiencing poor physical health, it may prevent us from doing and enjoying what we used to do. We may experience a loss. Additionally, we may feel low or sad because we have the health condition. Why me? Sometimes the condition itself can make us feel depressed. Some medical conditions, like diabetes, heart conditions and lupus (to name just a few), have been linked to depression.

We are pre-disposed. It seems that some people have a type of personality that makes it more likely they will develop depression. The genetic effects of depression are not well understood and the research has a long way to go before genetics can be ruled in or out as a cause of depression.

Personality. A mentioned above, some people have personality styles or traits that make them more susceptible to depression. Some of those traits include: a tendency to being anxious or to worry; shyness and being personally reserved; being self-critical or self-judgemental; being sensitive to criticisms of others.

Stress. There may be stress in our life. It could be because of a single cause, or it could be an accumulation of stress from many events or issues. Either way, stress can cause depression. There is often a link between severe or ongoing anxiety and depression.

Trauma. Experiencing a traumatic event or events, witnessing trauma, can bring on symptoms of depression. It is common to see people cope with the effects of trauma and depression by using drugs or alcohol.

Loneliness. Many people feel lonely and the number of people feeling lonely seems to be increasing. Not only that, people seem to be reporting that they are feeling more lonely more longer. There is a link between loneliness and depression.


What Can You Do if You Are Depressed?

Help is always available.

Speak to a family member, a loved one, a friend. Reach out to somebody whom you can trust.

Speak to your GP. They will guide you.

Contact a psychologist. They can let you know if you are experiencing signs of depression and they can help you by using a number of techniques that are designed to be effective.


If you are able, you should try to:

  • Socialise
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Cut back on alcohol and stop or cut back on drugs


Just remember that you are not alone, and you do not have to deal with this on your own.