Everyone feels sad, blue or down-in-the-dumps on occasion. You may even feel “depressed”. However, diagnosable depression is much more intense and interferes with your daily living. Feeling hopeless and helpless are strong indicators of clinical depression.
Ask yourself whether your current down mood is a normal reaction to a struggle, loss or disappointment. If so, you may be able to resolve this on your own or benefit from talking to a mental health professional to facilitate your adjustment.
If you find it a challenge to face each day, feel overwhelmed with grief or emptiness, and don’t even want to get out of bed, you are likely suffering from depression that warrants therapy. Like most psychological problems, signs and symptoms vary among individuals.
If you wonder if you are depressed, check out these signs and symptoms:
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Loss of interest in friends and former enjoyable activities
- Feeling lethargic and tired
- Change in appetite, weight and sleep patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Self-loathing or constant negative thoughts
- Angry or irritable
- Reckless behavior such as substance abuse, gambling or risky driving
- Physical complaints such as unexplained headaches, stomach aches, pain
It may feel difficult to take the step but relief could be a phone call away. When individuals who report feeling depressed meet with a therapist, initially their symptoms, thoughts, feelings, negative stressors and history are discussed. It is vital that people who feel depressed have a physical examination to determine whether there is a medical condition contributing to their depression. They are assessed for suicide risk and whether they need to be admitted to the hospital, evaluated by a psychiatrist for medication, or whether cognitive behavioral therapy is indicated. How they have responded to their depression thus far is explored and what coping strategies could be more supportive are clarified. Negative thought patterns and irrational thoughts are highlighted and those who were depressed learn healthier ways to approach life.