Am I Depressed?
This is one of the most common questions I get asked. Many of us are wondering if we are depressed and at what point do we need to go for help? Many more of you, you are reading this because you are concerned about a friend, co-worker, or family member. Please be aware that depression will convince the person to isolate themselves. Reaching out to them and being willing to sit with them in their pain is never out of line.
Is it Sadness or Is it Depression?
Feeling blue or sad is part of everyone’s experience as a human. When that sadness or a feeling of hopelessness hangs around for weeks and is resistant to your attempts to shake it off, it is considered depression. Sadness comes and goes. Depression is accompanied by changes in your sleeping patterns, your mood, your motivation, appetite, concentration and energy.
The incidence of depression is on the rise. The World Heath Organization reports that for women, major depression is the leading cause of disease related disability in the developed world. (WHO 2013) The Center for Epidemiologic Studies puts it like this: “Depressive disorder interferes with their ability to do things in their lives that they normally can do well; and it causes pain for both the people with the disorder and those who care about them. Depressive disorder is a common but serious illness. Many people never seek treatment for their depression, but most people who experience depression feel better if they get treatment.”
What are the Symptoms?
The Center listed above has a Depression Scale that is available online here. (Warning: At this writing the link works but the test would not give a final score…which, quite frankly, is depressing! Taking the time to work through the questions though should give you a pretty good idea of the severity of your symptoms.)
The most common symptom of depression is a feeling of sadness or hopelessness that lasts for most of the day and is accompanied by a loss of interest or enjoyment in almost all activities. It often results in a change in weight, which can be either a gain or a loss. Depression affects sleep patterns with the person experiencing increased fatigue and yet often they do not sleep well. Mentally, depression can cause you to feel like you are in a fog, have trouble making decisions, all the while feeling worthless. Thoughts of suicide may or may not be present and can be fleeting, intrusive or persistent.
What are the Signs I Need to go for Help?
Because we all have periods of blueness, knowing when to get help for it can be tricky. The worst part of it is depression itself will tend to convince those it effects to not reach out and get help. If you suspect you are depressed, it is better to make the call to discuss it with someone instead of hoping it will go away on its own. If you are wonder if you should get help, then in my opinion you should get help.
Here are some things to be aware of:
- If at any point you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, you should seek professional help immediately.
- If you are finding depression is taking over your life and having a negative impact on your daily life such as personal hygiene or scheduling necessary activities.
- If it is affecting your schoolwork or work
- If it is affecting your relationships, your social life, or your family
- If it is feeling out of control.
- If you find yourself doing things that you recognize as being not normal for you.
- If you find yourself relying on alcohol, drugs or other methods of self-medication to cope.
Your first visit should be with a medical professional to rule out any underlying medical problems. They will be able to assess what you are experiencing and give you recommendations on how to deal with it. Ask whether your depression is at a level where a counsellor would be beneficial.
For Your Friend or Family Member:
When depression is severe, the person struggling with it, is rarely in a state of mind to ask for help. If you are a family or friend of someone who shows signs of depression please be aware of these signs listed by webMD:
- A sudden switch from sadness to extreme calmness, or appearing to be happy
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, like tying up loose ends or changing a will
- Saying things like “It would be better if I weren’t here” or “I want out”
- Talking about suicide
- Visiting or calling close friends and loved ones
All of these warrant immediate help. Call 811 in Canada to talk to a mental health professional or 911 if there is suicidal concern.
What Can I Do About it?
One of the hardest things about depression is that it steals your motivation so more often that not you don’t want to do anything about it. Yet there are basic things that have been shown to be helpful in combating depression.
- Go for a walk, preferably outside.
- Exercise. The endorphins released during exercise are a natural anti-depressant.
- Feed your body healthy food.
- Learn relaxation techniques.
- Start a gratitude journal listing at least 3 things every day you are thankful for.
- Reach out to someone. Plan social events. Even if it’s inviting your friend over to watch movies in your pj’s.
- Practice Self-Care. Need ideas? Join my free 30-day Self-Care Challenge and daily receive self-care ideas and commit to looking after yourself.
What Happens When You Come See Me?
When depression is stealing the joy and peace from your world, my desire is to offer a place for you to unload whatever is bothering you. We will see how it is affecting you and explore ways to keep your head above water. We will strengthen your own positive coping skills and discover what new skills can be added to help you in your battle. Depression is not easy, you shouldn’t battle alone.
If you are ready to work on the issue of depression and hopefully find your way back to joy and peace, give me a call at 1-833-630-2010, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my online schedule: Schedule an Appointment