Are You Depressed? Signs of Depression & What You Can Do About It
We frequently throw the word “depressed” around when we’re feeling bummed out, much like we use “starving” when we’ve had too little lunch to sustain us until dinner. It’s much easier to know if you’re actually starving (and what to do about it) than if you’re actually depressed. Some signs of depression can even be mistaken for other factors such as when someone feels “tired” and refers to him/herself as “lazy.” Irritability is another often confused sign of depression. That short temper could be telling you something!
Stress, feeling low, and depression do share some similar symptoms in the way they make you feel. But depression is much more serious in terms of both its effects on your mental (and frequently physical) health and its duration.
How do I know if it’s depression?
Like most mental illnesses, depression manifests itself differently in different people. You may identify with some of these signs and symptoms of depression, but those you recognize in yourself may be different from how another person might describe his or her depression symptoms. That is okay and does not mean that you are more or less deserving of care than another person. We all have different body chemistry and emotional backgrounds that cause us to experience depression in different ways.
If signs of depression or symptoms last for two weeks, it is likely you’re depressed and could seriously benefit from professional care.What are some of the signs of depression?
- Feeling exhausted
- Difficulty rousing to action/lack of energy or motivation
- Intense mood changes
- Withdrawal and isolation from others
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty making decisions
- Drastic changes in appetite
- Drastic changes in sleep cycle/quality
- Difficulty concentrating
- Quick irritation or anger
- Disinterest in activities/hobbies you used to enjoy
- Suicidal thoughts
- Overwhelming feelings of apathy
- Engaging in reckless behavior (sexual, substance abuse, etc.)
- Feelings of being worthless or a failure
- Senses seem dulled (no longer tasting food, or enjoying music, etc.)
While a self-test does not substitute for a professional diagnosis, understanding your feelings a bit better may help you start practicing healthy coping behaviors and lifestyle modifications at home.
Bringing the results of such a screening to an appointment with a mental health care professional can also help you talk about your symptoms since sometimes it is hard to find the words to accurately convey or describe our feelings to others.
What you can do about depression
It takes courage to make a positive change in your life. It may be difficult, but not impossible. While the best thing to do would be to seek professional care, there are many things you can do at home to get your energy up. The path to recovery is reached by small steps!
- Set small goals. Set small goals for yourself and give yourself positive feedback when you accomplish them! If your goal is to go for a short walk or make a phone call, reward yourself by taking the time to enjoy something like a soothing cup of herbal tea. Pay attention to the sensations of the warm mug in your hands, the steam rising up to your face… take things slowly and meditatively. You’re boosting your energy levels and connecting more to your senses.
- Reduce negative thoughts. “Thinking positive” is a good mantra, but hard to follow. Try this tip to challenge your negative thinking: log it. Yes, try keeping a log of your negative thoughts. Review them later and ask yourself if they are justified.
Look at other ways to view the situation. Recognize that negative thinking is more of a thought pattern or habit than a reflection of the real situation! You’ll probably begin to see that many of your negative thoughts are wild over-generalizations or evidence of all-or-nothing thinking that is both negative and unrealistic.
Learn more about negative self-talk and depression here.
We have therapists available to help you recover from depression should you decide to seek treatment. Give us a call at 832-559-2622. You deserve to live your best life.
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