It is common for people to ask how they can know whether or not they have depression. The question is certainly a valid one. Especially when mental health authorities, like the Anxiety & Depression Association of American reports that upwards of 16.1 million Americans are afflicted by symptoms of depression, such questions are bound to surface.
When you are depressed, it is likely that at least one person in your life has told you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and plug on or they may have assured you that you were just having a bad day and “this too shall pass.” Although the people who offer such “wisdom” mean well, they are obviously in the dark where depression is concerned.
Symptoms of depression can hit anyone at any given time. It doesn’t care what social status, gender, or age you are. It often takes place within the brain and is attributed to chemistry within the brain which you have no control over. Just getting over it is not always an option.
Depression hits different people in different ways. There are those who have seasonal depression and may feel blue when the weather turns cold and gloomy but when the sun comes out again, they are all better. Others experience a low-grade form of depression constantly.
Symptoms of Depression
While numerous reasons exist for depression and there are many types of it as well, the intent of this article is t aid in identifying when depression is present. Some tell-tale signs are common to many that have depressive conditions. Awareness of them is helpful in order to determine when it’s time to seek help.
In major depression, you might have up to nine symptoms. If five are present during a two-week interval, major depression is very probable. Within depression, there is a sad mood but it is more than just being blue. It’s so overwhelming, you’re live basically is put on hold.
Here are the nine symptoms of major depression:
1. Being in a depressed state or mood for the majority of the day, just about every day where you feel hopeless, sad, and empty.
People in depression often feel like there is no hope. They may express such feelings or not. They may also cry a lot. Some hold the tears in, however.
Sadness is often felt when things appear hopeless. The sadness can engulf your being. Many other emotions can spring from this state of mind.
2. Disinterest is common with depression. Activities aren’t fun anymore. There’s no interest in people either.
It is not unusual for someone who’s depressed to become an observer of life when they use to participate. They lose their motivational drive and it is difficult or impossible to enjoy anything. Isolation is quite probably at this point.
3. Significant loss of weight is a sign of depression. Gaining weight can be a red flag as well. Unless you are dieting or working on weight gain, any change of 5% of your body weight or more in a month’s time is a possible indication that trouble is amiss.
Keep in mind that not everyone who is depressed ceases to eat or eats more. So don’t look for this to always be a clue. And, not everyone who gains or loses weight rapidly are depressed but it warrants investigating.
4. Insomnia or excessive sleeping on a daily basis is a potential symptom of depression. Some who are depressed find it hard to shut their thoughts off in order to sleep and others find relief in avoiding reality by sleeping.
Again, just because someone sleeps too little or too much doesn’t necessarily constitute that depression is present but it very well might. This is one of the most universal symptoms of depression. REM while sleeping imperative to good health so if you’re not getting yours, there may be an underlying problem such as depression.
5. Uncontrollable shaking or constant movement is another sign of depression. Random movements, like Jimmy Leg, are common. Nervousness can be a source and lethargy may be present too.
There are other issues that also cause sudden movements, like Parkinson’s disease, Shaking Leg Syndrome, and drug addiction and withdrawal. A physician can rule out those things though. Some people naturally shake as well. If you think you might be having symptoms of depression and find yourself shaking without any other explanation, it could be related.
6. Lack of energy or drive and constant fatigue on a day-to-day basis. Depression zaps your energy and your zest. If you are tired most of the time, it could be due to being depressed and is worth checking into, especially if you are always tired even after you have had ample rest.
Being tired after a hard day of work is one thing. You should be tired. Or, if you have not slept in a long time, it is natural to be tired and sleepy. But, if you find yourself tired when you haven’t really done anything strenuous or even when you have just woken up, it could be a sign that you are depressed. Taking frequent naps throughout the day and never feeling as if you have fully rested are signals that your body may be in depression mode.
This particular symptom goes hand in hand with isolation. If you are too tired to do anything or go anywhere, you will tend not to be around other people in social situations. That only intensifies the problem.
There is also the fact that if you feel bad about yourself, you don’t want to be around others who might judge you. Inadequate feelings are not conducive to social gatherings because they tend to intensify them.
7. Feeling guilty without reason and feeling worthless are symptoms of depression. Even if you haven’t been the perfect person all your life, feeling guilty is not constructive and can lead to depression and, depression can lead to feeling guilty.
There are, of course, things that do warrant feeling guilty about, like if you yell at your child. In that event, normally the situation is rectified and life goes on. But if you feel guilty because you are sick or because you are not the perfect mother, that is a different story. The guilt is delusional.
It is common for those suffering from depression to feel they don’t live up to the standards of others and to their own. Self-esteem is hard to come up with when you feel worthless. Guilt and a general feeling of worthlessness tend to accompany depression in the majority of cases because it is difficult to feel good about yourself when you are depressed.
8. The inability to focus, concentrate, or think clearly is another sign of depression. While we all have our “moments”, this problem is ongoing within the realms of major depression. It is a noticeable switch from the way you usually think and is usually observed by those around you too. At first, you may blow it off or even make an excuse or a joke about it. Eventually, it cannot be covered up any longer and is a problem in your life which interferes with daily activity.
Decision making can pose a real problem when your thinking and reasoning are clouded. You may lean on the decisions of others more than you ever have. You may be a take charge person normally but find yourself overly dependent on the decisions of those around you when you are depressed. This can be frustrating for those who you are depending upon suddenly, especially if they are not accustomed to playing such a role.
9. Recurring thoughts concerning death and dying are indications that depression abounds. Suicidal thoughts or plans may be present. Or, there may be no plan but thoughts are there.
It is not a prerequisite to depression that there be thoughts of suicide or even of death but if there are, it is almost always a clue that one is in depression. Such thoughts are not normal and obsession with such thoughts are certainly an indication that there is a serious problem. It is imperative that a person who is thinking along these lines get immediate help.
If you are around someone who is making comments such as that they’d be better off if they were dead or any other statements that lean toward suicide or death, it is important to let them talk about it.
Don’t try to just shut them up or talk them out of their feelings but rather, allow them to say what is in their head and on their mind. Even if you cannot conceive that the person could ever really do such a thing, let them say their peace. Depression can get a strong hold on anyone. It respects no one and can make everyone think and act out of character. It is vital that you take them seriously.
If someone you know admits that they are having suicidal thoughts, please consider not letting them talk you into swearing to keep it secret. You don’t have to be dishonest. Simply let them know that you will do whatever it takes to make sure they are safe.
While this may not go over real well at first, the person will end up thanking you for it. You would never be able to live with yourself if they followed through and you had kept it quiet. Remember, those who are in the midst of depression are not fully capable of making good decisions on their own.
Suicide takes many by surprise. Oftentimes though, loved ones end up recalling something that was outright said or even skirted around that was an undetected clue that the person was having thoughts or was making plans to end it all. Be alert if you know someone who is depressed. Suicide many times becomes a tempting way out of the pain for those who are experiencing deep major depression.
Professional counselors can offer help for depression. If you feel you are in a vulnerable spot and no immediate help is available, like if it is after hours, please contact a crisis center or even the police. Depression is too much to bear on your own. There is help available so reach out for it.
Seeking Help for Depression
Out of the nine main symptoms of major depression, how many can you identify with? Keep in mind that it is best not to even attempt to self-diagnose but if you are experiencing five or more symptoms on a regular basis, chances are it’s time to seek help and get some true treatment.
If you just have a few of the symptoms, it’s still a good idea to get in to talk to a professional and get evaluated. Many go without a diagnosis and without treatment which is a shame. Depression is a miserable thing to live with and the good news is that you don’t have to.
Don’t waste another moment. God sends people to help us. Someone helped me when I was depressed and I would love to be there to help you. As it turns out, God was there the whole time for me but I was blinded by my depression and couldn’t see it at the time. That’s what depression does. But, you don’t have to live like that anymore.
Brain chemistry, a loss, a big change in your work or living situation can all spur depression on. Depression is not something you can control and it is also not your fault.
Major depression is something you don’t just snap out of. It is very real and painful. If you are feeling depressed, it is time to reach out for help. Counselors in our center are waiting to walk you through it and to extend God’s love to you. Make the call today and get started in a brand new and refreshing, happy life.
“Alone”, Courtesy of MDARIFLIMAT, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Sadness”, Courtesy of Free-Photos, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Depressed”, Courtesy of Rawpixel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Fearless,” courtesy of Tegan Mierle, unsplash.com, CC0 License