Every week Edwin de Vaal (47), general practitioner in Nijmegen, answers a frequently asked or striking question from his practice. This week is that: what is the difference between depression and depression?

What is gloom anyway? Do you have to worry immediately?

De Vaal: "Everyone sometimes feels gloomy or depressed. But if you are not feeling well, it does not mean that you have depression."

What is the difference between depression and depression?

"We speak of gloom if you feel depressed for a few days or during periods. That often has a demonstrable cause: you have problems, someone has died, your relationship is over or you are worried about something. These are all reasons to feel sad and that is not a bad thing at all. Everyone has that at times. "

See also: Depression versus burnout: What are the differences?

And a depression?

"We speak of depression when the gloom persists for more than two weeks and when you can no longer enjoy anything at all. Everything seems dull and gray. It is as if there is a thick fog over things. You are not looking forward to anything anymore, no longer enjoy food or other things that you normally like. Often you sleep poorly. "

If gloom persists for more than two weeks and you can no longer enjoy anything at all, we speak of depression. (Photo: 123RF)

What should you do if you suspect that you are depressed?

"If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable for a long time, you don't enjoy anything anymore and you withdraw, it is good to talk to friends or family about it. You can also go to the doctor or the practice assistant. you think about solutions and help you to bring some structure back into your life so that you remain active. "

Why is it important to stay active?

"Exercise is very important. Go out for a walk twice a day. That is much better than going to the gym. Partly because there is no daylight in the gym."

What to do in case of depressive or somber complaints

  • Talk about it with friends or family
  • Keep a day rhythm, bring structure to your life
  • Take a walk outside twice a day
  • Provide sufficient daylight
  • Sleep well
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Do things that you like and give energy
  • In case of gloom that lasts longer than two weeks, ring the bell at the doctor
  • Take thoughts about suicide seriously and contact your doctor immediately or call 113 Suicide Prevention

Why is daylight important in depression?

"In depression, the brain works less well. Daylight activates the brain via the optic nerve. The blue light from sunlight stimulates your brain, just like moving does."

Does it really have to be daylight? Or can lamplight also be used?

"Unfortunately, light from a normal lamp does not have that effect. I therefore advise patients who are a bit quicker to take a workplace by the window. That way your eyes catch that extra daylight."

What else can you do yourself to tackle or prevent depression?

"Sleep well, do not drink too much alcohol and maintain a day and night rhythm. In the case of depression, your own initiative often diminishes. Then it is good to have a routine that you can stick to. That makes it easier to take action. come. "

"Do things that make you happy: bake a cake, watch a movie." Edwin de Vaal, doctor

"Be kind to yourself. We always have to do everything. Those are not always things that give us energy. Above all, do things that make you happy. Bake an apple pie, watch a nice movie, work in the garden, read a book."

When should you take the medication?

"In the case of very severe depression, the doctor can prescribe antidepressants. Most doctors only give this if there is a high level of suffering and if the normal tips and advice do not work. First, as a doctor, I want to know whether there is an underlying cause."

"For example, sometimes someone has been anxious for a long time, which can lead to depression. Or someone has a burnout that led to depression. Then it is better to tackle the cause first rather than prescribe pills right away. "