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How Do I Know If It’s More Than Just Sadness?

We all get sad from time to time, and that’s normal. You fail a test a school, argue with your partner, or lose your favorite earring that was given to you by your grandmother- any of this can make you feel sad. So how do you know if it’s just sadness or when it crosses the line into depression, and more importantly, when it’s time to get some help? Read the list below to find important symptoms to help you decide.

Symptoms of Depression

1. You have been having overwhelming feelings of sadness that have lasted over some length of time and that you are not able to just talk yourself out of.

2. Feeling hopeless and helpless has become your norm. You don’t see how anything you can do will make any difference and you don’t know why you should bother trying.

3. You notice a loss on pleasure in everyday things. For example, you don’t want to get out of bed to go to work in the morning or you sit on the couch instead of going out with your friends like you usually do. This loss of pleasure can and often does include sexual activity as well, which can negatively affect relationships as well as your self-esteem.

4. You notice changes in your sleep patterns. Maybe you have trouble falling asleep, or you fall asleep just fine, but wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep. Or maybe you’re just the opposite and sleep all day long. Both extremes are signs of depression.

5. You have noticed that you have become increasingly irritable and angry. Or some people find they experience mood swings or a labile mood. This is especially true of men who are depressed but is seen in women as well. So for example, maybe you’ve been snapping at your children or been experiencing road rage that isn’t like you.

6. Your appetite changed. Maybe you never feel hungry and have lost a bit of weight without even trying. Or the opposite and you notice that you’re eating a lot more than you usually do. You just always feel hungry.

7. You have been thinking about your death a lot lately. Maybe you wish you’d never been born or think your family would be better off if you did not exist. Or maybe you’ve even been thinking about killing yourself, or worse yet, have tried to harm or kill yourself.

8. You find yourself dragging through your days with no energy. It doesn’t even matter if you had a good night’s sleep, you’re just so tired all the time. Some estimates say that 90% of people with depression experience fatigue as one of the symptoms.

9. At work or school, you’ve been having trouble concentrating and have a lot of trouble remembering things. You also have been having a really difficult time making even the simplest of decisions. Research suggests that difficulties like this can be linked to increased difficulties in school or work, which may increase your depression.

10. You have been drinking or using drugs more than you usually do. Maybe it’s an attempt to feel happier, or to give yourself some energy, or even to increase your ability to socialize with others. Statistics show that 1 out of 5 people with depression also have a substance abuse problem.

11. You have been isolating yourself from your family and friends. You stay to yourself and don’t reach out to people like you used to. Your depression makes you think that no one cares about you or your wants/needs/feelings.

What To Do If You Think You’re Depressed

I think the best thing to do if you think you have depression is talk with a professional who can help you figure out if that’s really what’s going on and can help you get some help. Depression is a very treatable disorder and does not mean that you are weak or lack willpower. With the different medications and therapies that are available now, there is no reason for anybody to suffer alone.

If you’re not comfortable reaching out to a professional at this time, then talk to someone you love and trust. Getting some support can be very helpful when you’re feeling depressed and can help lift your mood.

Try to engage in good self-care including sleeping a full night, eating healthy meals, and getting exercise. Self-care also includes keeping your usual schedule and activities as close to normal as possible. So get up and care for your hygiene needs, go to work or school, & talk with people, even if this takes more effort than usual. Many people find that doing so will help them to feel a little better.

Concluding Thoughts

If you are feeling suicidal, you absolutely need to get help right away. Ask someone to take you to the ER, or call an ambulance. The national hotline for suicide is 800-273-8255 and there is someone there you can talk to at all times. If you are feeling suicidal, please take it seriously.

If you’d like to talk with me about starting depression treatment, please follow the link. I'd love to hear from you!

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