It is not uncommon for people from all walks of life to feel sad or lonely at times. Everyone at one time or another will have the blues, but you may have depression. Depression is a medical condition that requires help and is much more serious than being in a slump.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of clinical depression. It’s far more common in women than in men, and children also are affected by it.

Here are certain differences between having the blues and clinical depression.

Any situation that makes you feel anxious, sad or out of control could turn into the blues. It will usually go away once you no longer have to deal with the situation.

Depression is not situational. A person might have feelings of worthlessness, excessive fatigue and a general negative outlook on life.

This depressed mood occurs throughout the day, every day. Friends and loved ones will notice your tearful and sad personality before you may notice it yourself.

With the blues, you can bounce back relatively quickly. You will not dwell on the situation and can focus on getting out of the slump. This could take some time, but it doesn’t linger.

People who have depression are unable to bounce back. They usually feel restless and irritated day after day and don’t see an end in sight.

If you have the blues, then you are able to go about your day and not let it affect your job or relationships. You’ll still want to shower and eat and head to your appointments even if you feel sad over a loss or are just in a slump.

Significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia are some of the core symptoms of depression. Those with depression may forget to shower or eat.

Even if you are feeling sad, you can still enjoy leisure activities, and they might even elevate your mood. You’ll still look forward to hanging out with loved ones and can still find joy in the little things.

For a diagnosis of clinical depression, a diminished loss of interest in activities is present. Someone who is depressed loses interest in those things that once brought them joy.

So what if you only have the blues? What can you do to get out of the slump?

  1. Get active. Getting out of the house for some fresh air or going to your local gym can do wonders for your mood. Even if you don’t feel like joining a workout class, just walking up the street will at least get your heart pumping. It will also get you out of the house.Physical activity promotes new brain cell growth. Exercise increases positive mood-boosting neurotransmitters, thus reducing stress and anxiety, which act as nature’s antidepressant.
  2. Limit your sugar. This can be hard for some people, but eliminating sugar or limiting how you eat in a day will make you feel happier. It might even cause you to lose a few pounds. Try to avoid processed foods and grains such as bread and pasta. Substitute your soft drinks or juice for water and in no time your blah mood will disappear.When eating, stick to the 3 Fs: fresh, free and fatty. Buy fresh produce, eat foods free of sugar and soy, and consume healthy fats like omega-3, coconut oil and olive oil.
  3. Express yourself. Tell a friend about your feelings or get a journal and write them down. Getting those hurt feelings out is like therapy for many people. If you don’t feel like writing down your feelings you can create an art journal. Drawing or painting for some individuals seems to help them work through their problems.
  4. Start a project. One of the best things to do is to throw yourself into a new project. This is the time to repaint your room, refinish those kitchen cabinets or clean out your car. If you don’t feel like starting a big project you may not end up finishing, you can try your skill at knitting or crocheting. There are many online tutorials to teach you how to knit a basic scarf or hat. Try looking at online scrapbooking sites like Pinterest to give you inspiration for future projects.

If you suspect you might have depression and not just the blues, the best thing to do is to seek professional help. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor or go to a walk-in clinic if you don’t have a doctor. They can assess your mood and suggest therapeutic help.