Amanda Gregory, LCPC, Symmetry Counseling Chicago

Sadness is a healthy emotion that we all experience sometimes. But depression is far from healthy. As a therapist who has worked with depressed clients for more than a decade, I know it can be difficult to tell if what you feel is healthy sadness or harmful depression.

There are some common symptoms you can look out for that will help you to identify if you’re experiencing depression.

Persistent Depressed Mood

The frequency and longevity of a depressed mood is an indication of depression. Sadness tends to be brief or inconsistent—it comes and goes. However, if you feel down almost every day for most of the day, you might be experiencing depression. If it lasts for more than two weeks, that’s also an indication of depression.
As a client once told me about depression, “It was like I was stuck in a dark cave and I couldn’t find my way out. I thought it would get better on its own, but it didn’t.”

Lack of Interest or Pleasure

What do you enjoy? Exercise, hobbies, and time with friends and family are common pleasure-producing activities. Are you still participating in your favorite activities? Do these activities still make you feel good? If not, the reason for the change might be depression. Losing interest or no longer enjoying once-pleasurable activities is a common sign that someone is depressed.

“I loved yoga,” my client recalled. “Then I stopped going to my class. I just didn’t care about it anymore. And then, when I was able to force myself to go, I didn’t get anything out of it.”

Physical Symptoms

Depression overwhelms the body, and it affects people differently. Fatigue, too much or too little sleep, a change in appetite with weight gain or weight loss, rapid movement (like restlessness or the inability to sit still), and sluggish movement (like talking or moving slowly) can all be symptoms of depression.

“I had no energy,” the client reported. “I didn’t have an appetite and I slept 10 hours a day, which is not like me.”

Worthlessness, Guilt, and Death

Do you often feel worthless or guilty? Persistent feelings of inadequacy or excessive guilt are signs of depression. These feelings may occur almost every day and are exaggerated. Maybe you can’t stop thinking about a mistake you made in your past and feel unbearably guilty.

Thoughts about death, suicide, or hurting yourself are clear symptoms of depression. If you experience any of these thoughts, you need to seek help immediately, as your safety is at risk. Even if you don’t plan to act on your thoughts or you know you won’t harm yourself, they are a sign that it’s time to talk to someone who can help.

“I didn’t ever want to hurt myself,” a client recalled. “But I did have these thoughts about death. It was sort of like, if I never woke up or if I died in an accident, I would be OK with it.”

Counseling Can Help

Does this sound familiar? Are you experiencing healthy sadness or harming depression? If you are battling depression, you could benefit from participating in counseling.

To learn more about counseling for depression, please contact us at Symmetry Counseling by calling our office at (312) 578-9990.