I’m Depressed, But Not Because I Have Depression

May 2, 2012 Amie Merz, LPC, NCC

You may feel depressed, but not have clinical depression. How is that? Various medical conditions can produce symptoms of depression. Read more.

You walk into the counselor’s office to talk about your depression. Your symptoms include fatigue, poor concentration, decreased libido, moodiness, sleep disturbance, appetite change, nervousness, disorganization, relationship conflict, irritability, poor work performance, withdrawal from others. Yep, your counselor agrees, you have symptoms of depression. The next step should be to figure out WHY you have these symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of Depression Are Not Always Caused by the Disease of Depression

If it walks like a (depressed) duck and talks like a (depressed) duck, turns out it may not be a (depressed) duck after all. The chemical imbalance that causes clinical depression is a result of neurotransmitters in the body’s nervous system being “out of whack”. In a car, if the timing is off, the sparks are not firing at the right time to make the engine go and the car runs rough. This is also true in the human body, with electrical impulses in the nerves and brain firing at a rate that keeps your system running smooth. If the timing is off, it may be observed in your feelings and behavior, i.e. sad or depressed. But what else can make your car run poorly: bad gasoline, a need for a tune up, getting overheated, any number of things. So it is with the machine that is the human body.

Medical Causes of Depression Symptoms

There are other ailments and physical states that can cause symptoms of depression. Your counselor or doctor should get a good inventory from you about your health, any medications you take, your daily habits, and your family background before deciding what is the best course of depression treatment for you. Below, you'll find a number of medical conditions that may cause symptoms of depression other than a neurotransmitter imbalance.

  • Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, blood sugar issues
  • Hypo (underactive) thyroid
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Medication side effect
  • Drug or alcohol use, abuse or withdrawal
  • Stress
  • Sleep disruption, deprivation, changing sleep cycle when working swing shifts
  • Nutrition deficiency
  • Hormone imbalance; estrogen, testosterone
  • Low levels of Vitamin D or B12
  • Grief
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

It is imperative to have an accurate picture of what is causing the depression symptoms. Antidepressant medication is an excellent treatment when the cause of depression is a neurotransmitter (nervous system) imbalance. But if the symptoms are caused by another ailment, and it isn’t effectively treated, you won’t feel better.

Share with your therapist or doctor anything that is new or different with you since you have been feeling the symptoms. No information is bad information and if you and your treatment team work together, you will do the detective work to help yourself feel better sooner.

APA Reference
Merz, A. (2012, May 2). I’m Depressed, But Not Because I Have Depression, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Amie Merz, LPC, NCC

November, 15 2017 at 6:38 pm

You can't separate the body and the mind. You can't say depression is psychological and not physical. It's both, what effects the mind effects the body and vise verse. Everything that happens to the mind happens to the body. It's just a different type of opposite and equal reaction. If you can clean your body your mind follows, if you can clean your ur mind the body follows it's one thing. The soul is the harmony between the two.

Linda Joy
March, 8 2015 at 7:01 am

FINALLY someone acknowledges that 'I am depressed because' exists as much as 'because you are depressed'.
I came looking for something that recognises this, because I am extremely frustrated at the continual use of 'because you are depressed' being used as an excuse to blame the victim.
I do not imagine the subtle bullying occurring by a controlling clique in my small seniors complex, -but am having my distress at this explained away to the management group (some distance away), by a supervisor who sees this group as her friends. There is no aggression from her, what is happening is an endemic culture that also affected my predecessor here.
Management now treats me as though I am delusional, gently assuring me that the residents 'are not against me'. Most are not, and keep themselves to themselves,-but this small controlling group most certainly are.
The more I attempt to explain this the more neurotic I appear. THAT and only that, is why I am depressed.
Because you are depressed is commonly used, sometimes even by medical professionals and even friends.
I wish that there is far more recognition that depression can be a reaction, and not a predisposition.

December, 7 2012 at 2:38 pm

I think diagnosing someone with depression when they have been or are in an emotionally abusive relationship is a very dangerous thing to do.
It gives abusive perpetrators a lot of power and sets victims up for more abuse often leading to suicide.
We should all be able to feel sadness and grief without being told we have a disease and the source must be established to be able to heal.
Depression should be labelled as a mental wound or injury not a disease.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

January, 27 2013 at 5:33 pm

Very true, the cause of the feelings isn't always a chemical imbalance.

November, 28 2012 at 10:47 am

Great article! Super informative. I'm gonna try to post to my FB page.

May, 13 2012 at 11:14 pm

That is very strange that the depression is caused by disease generally be think that the depression is psychological problem and can be prevented physical acts but there are many other behind the depression.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 15 2012 at 4:53 pm

There are many different causes of depression aren't there?

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