Millions of people suffer from depression every day yet most people don’t know that there are ways to alleviate the symptoms with just a few changes. The first step is to even figure out whether you have depression by looking for tell-tale warning signs.
In today’s society, depression is often seen by some as a minor problem. There are those who believe that being depressed is akin to having a bad day that will eventually pass after a good night’s sleep. The truth is, this isn’t the case for many who suffer from depression all over the world. It can often take over your entire life for weeks or even months.
Thankfully, speaking and being open about depression is becoming more and more normalized. People are recognizing it as a serious and real condition. That can encourage those suffering from it to seek help and support.
What are the Signs?
Depression can affect different people in very different ways. Due to this, it isn’t a condition that can be quickly and accurately diagnosed. Some may withdraw and stop interacting with everyone around them. Others may not display those kinds of symptoms at all, but have unhealthy eating and sleeping patterns. Being irritable and anxious are also indicators that show up time and time again.
While depression is a mental condition, it can manifest itself in physical problems as well. In some cases, it can result in headaches or other pains. Of course, having an irregular sleep schedule will result in a feeling of sluggishness and maybe even a loss of sex drive.
Something to remember is that there are levels to symptoms too. Just because someone seems like they are coping well with sadness doesn’t mean they aren’t depressed. On the extreme end of things, a person’s physical well-being will begin to nosedive as they continue to neglect their health. Depression rears its head in many different forms, and it’s important to keep that in mind.
List of the Symptoms
As mentioned above, symptoms will be different when comparing people who suffer from depression. As a baseline though, a feeling of hopelessness combined with a loss of interest in hobbies and favored activities is a good indicator.
Doctors will categorize levels of depression as mild, moderate and severe. Mild is when the impact of depression on your life is smaller, and you are able to at least function at work and in social situations. Moderate is when the depression starts to make a big impact on your life. Severe is when normal activities become next to impossible.
Some of the symptoms of psychological depression are:
• Persistent sadness throughout the day
• Becoming disinterested in things and activities you are normally interested in
• Being unmotivated to do anything
• Feeling excessively guilty about things that aren’t necessarily your fault
• Being irritable or grumpy
• Feeling indecisive about everything
• A sensation of helplessness
• Sudden urges to cry or tearfulness
• Not enjoying things like relaxing or watching a favorite movie
• A sense of low self-esteem
• Being anxious about everything
• Thoughts of self-harm
Some of the physical symptoms of depression are:
• Unexplainable aches and pains that don’t seem to have a source
• Reduced sex drive
• Sluggishness in movement or talking
• Losing or gaining weight rapidly
• Digestion issues
• Normal sleeping patterns getting interrupted for no reason
• Feeling lethargic
• Unexplained changes to menstrual cycle
The nature of some of these symptoms means that a person’s social life will be affected as well. Social symptoms include:
• Not getting along with family
• Participating less in social functions
• Avoiding your friends
• Having problems communicating at work
Because the symptoms are so wide and varied, it can be very difficult to self-diagnose. The fact that symptoms can start small before growing more serious doesn’t help either. Someone suffering from depression may try to cope by themselves instead of seeking help.
Causes of Depression
Like with everything else discussed so far, there isn’t one universal cause that can be blamed for everyone’s depression. A life-changing stressor like the loss of a loved one or financial issues can be to blame. In other cases, an illness or injury could be the source. Multiple events happening at the same time can also cause someone to be more susceptible. It’s harder to get back up if more and more things keep trying to push you down.
What’s unfortunate is these situations can lead into each other. If someone is in an accident and breaks their leg, it might keep them from participating in hobbies or activities they normally enjoy. They start spending more time at home alone, which keeps them from interacting with friends and family.
In addition, a person’s regular lifestyle can play a big part. Research has shown that people who have always been surrounded by difficult social and financial situations are more likely to become depressed. Age also seems to play a part in the equation.
Knowing what symptoms can indicate depression is one thing. Actually seeking out an accurate diagnosis is something else. There’s no test for depression in the traditional sense of the word. It’s not like there’s a one-page questionnaire that will be able to tell the answers you seek. Instead, the assistance of a trained medical professional is required.
It’s important to get help if:
• You recognize some of the symptoms of depression and they don’t go away
• You have thoughts or urges for self-harm, or other forms of destructive behavior
• Your mood is starting to effect relationships with friends, family, or coworkers.
As the adage goes, the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. It can be hard to open that door, but it’s a necessary one to start you on the journey for a solution.
Something a general practitioner will be able to help with is to rule out other conditions. With so many symptoms, there is a lot of crossover with other ailments. By performing tests on your urine or blood, they might uncover a different source of your problems, such as low thyroid levels or anemia.
Being truthful and candid with your doctor is paramount towards an accurate diagnosis. If you withhold information or lie about certain things, it will only make things more difficult than it needs to be. For example, a person may find it difficult to admit to substance abuse problems, but that’s definitely something your doctor will want to know about. It’s always better to give too much information rather than not enough in these situations. There are many regulations about doctor-patient confidentiality that protect the patient.
Your doctor will be able to recommend certain treatments, or refer to a specialist. You could also speak with a professional therapist directly if you want to go that route. Read below for some of the ways to take on depression.
Counseling and therapy in general can provide direction to help deal with depression. More and more people are turning toward therapists to help navigate through difficulties in life. Thanks to the internet, it’s also more convenient than ever to speak with a professional.
Online counseling can provide a level of anonymity that is much more difficult in person to maintain. It’s simply easier for some to open up in these situations. Because chatting over the internet is more convenient than driving to an appointment, individuals may find it easier to keep to a schedule. After all, treatment only works if you keep up with it.
Whichever you decide on, a therapist will be able to guide you through your journey. They are there to help you and offer advice to deal with your symptoms and the causes behind them.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a specific form of psychotherapy that can help with a number of issues, like depression and anxiety. To put it into simple terms, CBT helps compartmentalize your behavior and thoughts and how they make you feel. Once that occurs, an individual can challenge negative beliefs that are affecting their well-being.
CBT is often offered on therapy websites, so you’ll be able to get connected with a specialist that way. Some professionals also have group CBT sessions where a single counselor speaks with many people like a class.
The goal is to help you become adept at solving the underlying issues that are negatively affecting your life. You’ll also be able to adjust thinking patterns to be more positive so you can get back to your own life.
As you may already know, antidepressants are medications treat depression. There are many different kinds out there, and they can have very different side effects. Effectiveness can also vary from person to person, so communication with your prescriber is important. What works for one person won’t necessarily be a good fit for another. You’ll also see your provider regularly to check up on how well the medication is working.
Once you get put on a regimen, you’ll want to keep to your prescribed schedule. Even if you suddenly feel better, quitting on the spot can cause a relapse. While antidepressants aren’t addictive in a traditional sense, you can still experience withdrawals. If you have reservations about continuing a specific drug, be sure to communicate that with your doctor so that everyone is on the same page.