Am I depressed?
You may be reading this because you are wondering if you are experiencing depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines depression as “a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working”.
The NIMH also mentions a few types of depression, for example:
- Persistent depression disorder/dysthymia: long lasting depression, for at least 2 years or longer.
- Major Depression: depression is present for at least two weeks and impacts daily functioning.
- Perinatal depression: depression that occurs before or after pregnancy.
- Seasonal affective disorder: depression that occurs with the seasons, usually presents in the fall-winter.
- Depression with symptoms of psychosis: psychosis symptoms are present with depression (such as delusions and hallucinations).
Depression symptoms can also be a part of other diagnoses, such as Bipolar disorder.
How do you know if you have depression? Anyone can experience depression, and depressive symptoms can range from mild, moderate, and severe. Some symptoms that one can experience are the following:
- feelings of hopelessness
- feelings of sadness or feeling numb
- feelings of guilt/worthlessness
- decreased energy
- loss of interest in usual activities
- difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- changes in sleep
- changes in appetite or weight
- thoughts of death and/or suicidal thoughts
You do not have to experience all these symptoms to be diagnosed with depression, but depression will cause distress and impairment that affects day-to-day functioning. Depression can look different from person to person. Some other ways depression can present are feeling restless, becoming withdrawn, and isolating. (NIMH)
With depression, it often causes increased negative thoughts, which can sometimes cause thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Because a common symptom of depression is isolation, it can cause one to feel alone. There is stigma associated with mental health, and there may be individuals in your life who do not understand depression. This does not mean you are alone, and it can be helpful to know what depression is and that other people experience it. Depression can improve and get better.
Although it may not always be easy to reach out for help, the first step is answering the question of whether what you are experiencing is depression or not. Once you figure out if you are experiencing depression, then you can take steps to address depression and improve your quality of life. Some barriers that can make it difficult to reach out for help can include:
- fear of being judged or misunderstood
- hopelessness (what is the point)
- being caught up in day-to-day stressors and pushing through symptoms
- invalidating or comparing symptoms to others
The important part to remember is that while you may be experiencing depression, you are not your depression. A common example of this is wanting to enjoy hobbies but feeling unmotivated and having no energy to do so. Depression can take away things you enjoy, and it can seem impossible to get back to the things you once enjoyed, but there are people that can help you along the way.
If you are experiencing depression, it is important to know that you do not have to battle depression by yourself. If you relate to the symptoms discussed, the next step is to talk to a healthcare professional. This could be your doctor, a psychiatrist, or a therapist. It can be intimating to get the answer to “Am I depressed?” but it is the first step in facing depression. A professional can assist you in getting the help you need. Treatment is different for every individual and can include medication, therapies (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), support groups, learning coping skills, and more.
If you are currently struggling with depression, it may be a good idea to connect with one of our skilled therapists at Symmetry Counseling today. You can contact us via phone at 888-661-2742 or text “APPT” to 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment. Crisis information: For immediate help- Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or go to the nearest emergency room. Other crisis resources- 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline; Call or text 988; Llame al 988 (para ayuda en español); Use Lifeline Chat on the web (English only)
The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Depression. (n.d., last reviewed 2023). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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