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Depression vs. Blues: Know the Difference

Anonymous 'test' can help you decide if you should ask for help

Sooner or later, everyone gets the blues. But what if you don't bounce back? What if your feelings of sadness linger, are excessive, or interfere with your work, sleep, or recreation? Depression is very common and more than 19 million people in the U.S have it. With the right treatment, one can find a path to recovery.

Signs and symptoms

It's normal to feel sadness, grief, or low energy at times, but depression differs from the regular bout of emotion. Depression can cause you to lose interest in activities you've always enjoyed, withdraw from loved ones, and create a prolonged feeling of hopelessness.

Signs that you may be suffering from depression include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day

  • Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most daily activities

  • Significant weight loss or gain or decrease or increase in appetite

  • Sleeping too much or not enough almost every day

  • Feeling restless and not able to sit still, or sitting quietly and feeling that moving takes great effort

  • Feeling tired all the time

  • Inappropriate feelings of worthlessness or guilt

  • Difficulty focusing, remembering things, or making decisions

  • Recurrent thoughts about hurting yourself, death, or suicide

These symptoms vary from person to person. They can be mild, moderate, or severe

  • Mild depression - you display some of these symptoms. They affect your life, but you can function with them.

  • Moderate depression - you have more symptoms, and they are beginning to change your life.

  • Severe depression - your symptoms change your life as well as affect your job or career and your relationships.

Get screened

Getting screened for depression is an easy way to spot the signs of a serious illness. If you think you might suffer from depression, use the anonymous online Depression Screening tool. The results are not recorded anywhere. Share what you learn with your health care team. Mental health professionals can best decide your next steps.

Trainings to help

Depression is not a personal weakness, and sometimes requires help. If you struggle to overcome depression on your own, these trainings can support you through your day to day life.

  • Moving Forward: This course teaches problem solving skills to help you better handle life's challenges.

  • Veteran Parenting: In this course, you will learn tools to help reconnect with your kids and strengthen your parenting skills.

  • Path to Better Sleep: If you're experiencing sleep problems, you don't have to let it control your life. This course is designed to help you develop habits that promote a healthy pattern of sleep.

  • AIMS: This course is based on training that was developed for Veterans and has been successfully used by Veterans & Service Members around the world.

Don't wait until it's too late to seek help. If self-help training doesn't work for you, use Secure Messaging (sign in required) to ask your health care team if psychological counseling would be right for you.

Read More

Depression Screening 

Myths and Facts About Depression (Veterans Health Library)

Depression: What You Need To Know (National Institutes of Health)

What happens when I contact the Veterans Crisis Line? (VA Mental Health)


Updated February 11, 2020