Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. If you or someone you love has depression, it’s essential to recognize the signs and get treatment.
Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of suicide. The symptoms usually last at least two weeks and don’t go away even after several months.
Signs You May Be Depressed
- Low energy — Even when you’re not feeling sad, you still need enough energy to do your daily activities. You lose your usual enthusiasm and the motivation to work on projects.
- Loss of interest in sex — Sex becomes an unpleasant or difficult duty rather than something you enjoy.
- Trouble falling asleep — When you sleep, you dream. Dreaming is the brain’s way of processing new information during REM sleep. Lack of dreaming means your brain isn’t processing the information as it should be.
- Poor appetite — Your appetite is controlled by hormones in your stomach called peptides. Hormone imbalances cause changes in appetite and food choices. Some people find themselves eating less and losing weight despite increased hunger. Others overeat.
- Feeling guilty — You often feel bad about yourself and believe you deserve punishment. You feel like no one understands you.
- Feelings of worthlessness — You try to accomplish tasks that make you feel productive every day. But it doesn’t seem to matter whether you succeed or fail. You still think you aren’t good enough.
- Thoughts of death — Sometimes, you think about taking your own life. Other times, you wonder why anyone would want to live.
- Poor concentration — It seems complicated to focus on anything, especially schoolwork. Many students find it challenging to concentrate on homework or class discussions—difficulty focusing leads to poor grades or missing assignments.
- Excessive worrying — Worrying won’t solve any problem. Unfortunately, it only makes matters worse.
- Overwhelmed — You feel overwhelmed by too much work or responsibilities. Everything feels overwhelming, including everyday chores like cleaning the house or making dinner.
- Unhappy — You notice that you feel generally low most of the time. You struggle to figure out why you’re so down all the time.
What To Do If You Feel Depressed
1. Seek medical attention
Depression has many symptoms. If you suspect you have a severe mental disorder, get medical care. In particular, seek treatment for suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Antidepressants are powerful medicines. Remember that each drug works differently for different individuals. Therefore, consider the benefits and risks of these and other drugs. In addition, think about your characteristics and preferences. Your doctor will decide which drug to use for you based on this information.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on changing thought patterns and negative thinking. CBT involves identifying and challenging dysfunctional and unhealthy thoughts and replacing them with more positive ones.
4. Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation may help you pay closer attention to your emotional experience rather than letting your mind wander randomly. People learn to observe their thoughts and emotions nonjudgmentally, then bring awareness to their breathing. In addition, this technique slows down brain activity, reducing anxiety and anger.
Physical activities like walking, jogging, dancing, or strength training help fight fatigue and provide energy. Practice makes you feel good physically, but it also reduces stress.
Additionally, yoga encourages deep relaxation through controlled breathing and stretching exercises. Although it’s not proven effective for treating depression, yoga does appear to improve mood.
Nutrition is also important to consider. Some studies suggest that eating breakfast daily, drinking lots of water, and choosing whole grains over refined carbohydrates may protect against depression.
6. Get help from friends
Talk honestly with them about your feelings. Make sure those close to you understand that depression is treatable, but the treatment takes time. Try not to isolate yourself. Sharing your feelings helps others better understand what you’re experiencing and provides validation that you are indeed dealing with issues.
Depression affects many people at some point in their lives. There is no shame in sharing what you’re going through. Talk to a therapist about treatment options that might work best for you soon.
If you feel like your daily functioning is being strongly impacted by depression and you are ready to make a change in your life and start thriving, I can help.
I offer in person and virtual therapy sessions- let’s do what’s best for you. If you are interested in speaking to me to see if we would be a good fit, please reach out. Contact me to schedule a complementary 15 minute phone consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.