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What depression is and isn’t.
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 .
9 signs and symptoms of depression
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!
Choosing the right therapy and methods
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. CBT tends to work successfully with concrete thinkers (rather than abstract ones) and its’ effectiveness has been observed for short periods of time. CBT helps people manage their depression symptoms but it does not treat depression long term. Below you can find links to the description of two different kinds of therapies used for managing and treating depression:
Depression treatment with Existential Therapy
Diana Pitaru M.S., L.P.C., is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Capitol Hill, Denver. Diana helps artists and creative adults connect with themselves and overcome depression thus finding new meaning and more enjoyment in their life. If you are struggling with depression and would like help, contact me.