First 30 Days Blog

12 nov

It’s Real: Being Almost Depressed

Jope2“You’re clinically depressed.”

Those three words were music to my ears just a few years ago. Sounds crazy, but I was relieved because I finally had answers.

From age 15 up until a few years ago, I dealt with periods of extreme sadness. When I was “happy,” I was never quite at peace. I read about depression but never felt I completely fit the description. I wasn’t having thoughts of suicide and I still got out of bed and functioned every day. I told myself it was time to accept who I was: Sullen.

Almost Depressed
When I finally received an official diagnosis, it was like being handed all the answers to a test. Everything I had been silently struggling with now had an explanation and it all started with being “almost depressed.”

According to a recent article on, Harvard Medical School has been studying the “almost depressed” phenomenon and determined approximately 75 percent of low-grade depression (almost depression) turns into full-blown depression if not treated. If I only knew this back then.

In the article, Shelley Carson, an associate of the Department of Psychology at Harvard University and author of a book about almost depression, says almost depressed people sometimes report feeling worse than those who are clinically depressed.

While that finding seems a bit bold, it actually makes complete sense. Finding out I was clinically depressed certainly wasn’t uplifting news, but it finally gave me answers. Answers I didn’t have when I was almost depressed, which only made me feel worse. With a real diagnosis came clear cut treatment options like medication, specialized counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy methods.

Carson points out almost depressed people suffer from depression that isn’t “severe enough to warrant clinical treatment.” As a former almost depressed person, I simply assumed I was bored or in a rut. Instead, I was coping with something that didn’t have an explanation at the time. I felt worse for not understanding what was wrong.

Anyone who has dealt with clinical depression understands its severity and how scary it can be. Its predecessor, almost depression, should no longer be overlooked. Not understanding what you’re feeling or brushing your negative emotions aside won’t make the depression go away, no matter how mild you may think it is.

If you suspect you’re almost depressed, plenty of things can help. Practicing mindfulness, eating well, exercising and engaging in activities you enjoy are a few ways to fight the depression.

My biggest tip? Seek counseling. Being almost depressed doesn’t exclude you from speaking to a professional. It’s possible you may only need a few sessions to get yourself back on track. A professional diagnosis can be the difference between being in the dark and getting on the path toward treatment.

Jennifer Jope is the author of, where she documents her own struggles with depression, including what she learned in a behavioral health program. Her health writing has appeared in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter and

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Posted by Jen Jope on November 12th, 2013 in Health, Personal Stories | 0 comments Read related posts in

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