Feeling sad, unhappy, or getting “the blues” are not the same as depression. I want to be clear here, depression is not something to feel ashamed about, nor is it a sign of weakness. Depression is a clinical term that describes a very serious issue, an umbrella encompassing a wide variety of symptoms that must be present for a specific period of time and with various degrees of intensity. If you or someone you know experience some or all of the depression signs and symptoms below for more than a few weeks on a consistent basis, seek professional help.
I am guessing you didn’t come here to get a clinical lecture on depression, right? Probably you’ve been noticing some changes in your mood (or someone else’s) and would like to find a name for what it is you are feeling. To help you figure out if you might be struggling with depression, take this test .
1. Fatigue and sleep
You are sleeping too much or too little and often feel fatigued and drained of energy.
2. Loss of interest
People who struggle with depression often find that the things they used to enjoy doing are no longer pleasurable, so they will start withdrawing from those activities or social groups and isolate themselves in the process. A decrease in sex drive and loss of interest in sex is also common for both men and women.
3. Changes in weight and appetite
Weight and appetite can go up or down depending on the person. It is important to keep in mind that changes in these two areas might be indicative of depression if they are not self-induced (diets, pills).
4. Physical and Mental
Headaches, unexplained pains, and digestive problems are common. Some people perceive a decrease in mental agility and acuity, and have trouble focusing, concentrating, and remembering details.
5. Up and down emotions
Mood swings are common in people with depression and they tend to appear out of nowhere. One moment you feel angry, the next you cry which is all very confusing and frustrating, which leads us to the next sign.
6. Guilt and Sadness
Sadness falls under the umbrella of depression and typically manifests itself via feelings of hopelessness and emptiness. Guilt/self-loathing presents itself in the form of self-criticizing, helplessness, and feelings of worthlessness.
7. Anxiety and irritability
Anxiety is really a by-product of depression. Imagine not being able to get a grip of your emotions, not knowing what will happen next. The stress of living in uncertainty is enough to cause increased levels of anxiety and irritability. This particular sign of depression manifests differently in men and women. Typically, women tend to internalize these emotions whereas men, externalize them.
8. Negative behaviors
In order to try and temporarily escape the cage of depression, some people will engage in substance abuse, extreme sports, and gambling.
9. Thoughts of suicide
The constant emotional turmoil that depressed people go through and failure to meet the impossible expectation to “fix oneself” leads people to take a look at depression’s closest friend: death. If that is the case for you or someone you know, seek help!
Depression is very treatable through a number of methods and therapies. Some treatments work better than others and will have longer lasting results. The effectiveness of these therapies is directly linked to your particular needs, so choose wisely. There is no one size fits all when it comes to therapy, and my recommendation is to find a method of therapy whose philosophical foundations are congruent with your philosophy of life. For instance, you may have heard that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tends to work best with most people. That is simply not true. If your philosophy of life is, say, Existential, you will probably not get too much out of the CBT session because this type of therapy will not address your issues in the language that you speak*. The same goes with other types of therapy such as narrative, psychodynamic, psychoanalytic and so on. In therapy, nothing is one size fits all, so if you decide to find someone make sure you interview the therapist and look to see if you click with him/her. It is this relationship that in large part accounts for your success in therapy.
*To illustrate this example so you can better understand what different models look like when seeking therapy for depression:
Depression treatment with Existential Therapy
Thank you for stopping by, stick around, and share these resources with others who might need some support as well. You never know who might be suffering in silence.