- I wouldn’t really characterize depression as having discrete levels.
It’s more like a continuum that shades from light to gray to dark. Actually it’s more like shading from charcoal to dark.
The disease is different for everyone, which makes it difficult to explain. I can relate my experiences and someone else could completely contradict my story — and still have depression. Without treatment it tends to get worse a lot more than it tends to get better. I know that much for sure.
If the normal person’s experience is to have an average happiness level of zero (meaning they’re neither unusually happy or unhappy), their emotions will naturally fluctuate throughout the day. So you can say that “normal” is zero, plus-or-minus 2. For the sake of argument, that’s a healthy range of emotions.
A depressed person might instead experience an average happiness level of negative two (plus-or-minus 2). So on a good day, they feel more-or-less “normal” but their average days are a “normal” person’s bad days and their bad days are a nightmare.
Or, a depressed person might instead experiencing an average happiness level of -.5 with moods that either add +2 or subtract -5. A really good day is still good (+1.5) but a bad day is super horrific (-5.5).
It’s hard to shoehorn such different models into one system of categorization.
Mild mood disturbance (this is the blues that everyone gets on occasion)
Borderline clinical depression (this can cover a particularly nasty situational depression, like you lost your job, it is the middle of the Great Recession, so there are no jobs on the horizon and you are about to be homeless. You probably don’t need meds, but you do need some counseling.)
Moderate depression (this just isn’t going away, you are still functional, but it is really hard. There can be no particular reason for this depression, it can just feel like there is a heavy blanket smothering the life out of you and you don’t have the energy to fight it off.)
Severe depression (Functioning is really difficult, you would rather spend the day in bed and make the world go away. The future looks pretty bleak, and you are feeling like you have no friends, there is no one that understands, and they never did. Suicide is possible.)
Extreme depression (This is the level where your therapist is going to be very concerned, and will probably recommend that you go to the hospital. Life is impossible (you aren’t taking care of yourself, no showers, not bothering with clean clothes, not feeding yourself, you aren’t taking your meds anymore, it just doesn’t matter anymore), there is no future, you are a total failure. You can see no way out of this. Suicide is more than a probability.)
There are quite a few and others may call them different things but they are basically all around these few
Mild: you occasionally feel really down and you feel a bit more lazy than usual but you still shower every so often and you bother to do at least some laundry and cleaning
Moderate: you often feel upset and you just want to lay around but you still eat and care to change every few days and you still can get up and walk around some
heavy: you start to feel like you emotions are draining and you would rather lay in bed instead of use the bathroom or eat but you still find a way to eat even if it’s not very much your family may notice a small change in you and may even comment and at this point you hardly even shower or change clothes
severe: you don’t feel emotion you feel that you’ve lost all hope and you don’t have any friends or anyone that cares about you. You are either eating way too much or way too little you don’t do anything all day you shower like once a week and will change you clothes after a few days and you start feeling more distant from everyone
EXTREME: you feel hopeless, emotionless, empty you feel like there is nobody that can care for you you haven’t showered, changed, or done much in weeks and you’ve stopped eating almost completely or you are eating every second, you will lay in your own filth and not use the bathroom all day, you can’t sleep during the night then you sleep all day or you fall asleep near 4:00 am and wake up at 6:00 am you may start to feel that the world is better without you and may start thinking about suicide or you might start self harm you may even try suicide. You feel that you can’t do anything right or that everyone hates you, you feel like you are just a grain of sand in a giant beach or that the world wouldn’t hurt at all if you died.
Several, normal depression, clinical depression, depression associated with another illness or mental disorder, depression which occurs as a result of the side effects caused by other medications which you may be taking.
Of those the first two are caused by loss. Of those two, only one will ass onn it’s own. Clinical depression is serious. It will take psychotherapy and medication. normal depression happens when you don’t pass that test, don’t get that job, lose that girlfriend… friends who talk are the best remedy for that.
EVERY other form needs to be brought to the attention of your personal physician.