What is Depression?
If you’ve had a bad breakup or lost a job, you’ll certainly have feelings of sadness, anger, and even misery. But does that mean you’re depressed? Or do you just have the blues? Sadness is a normal feeling and every human being deals with it at one time or another.
But there’s a marked difference between sadness and depression. It’s normal to have discouraging times, but when it begins to interfere with your ability to function in our everyday life, you may have a more serious problem.
The actual definition of “depression” is to have five or more symptoms of depression for at least two weeks. So, while you may feel sad for a time you may not actually be clinically depressed. Many people are resilient in difficult times.
If you feel down or discouraged for a week or two, you probably don’t have depression. But if it continues for more than two weeks and you have multiple symptoms, you may be dealing with a bigger issue.
Am I Depressed?
People suffering from depression can exhibit a wide range of symptoms. However, there are some specific symptoms that a healthcare provider will look for when making a diagnosis of depression.
If you’re suffering from many of these symptoms and signs, it may be time to reach out for help. Not only can these symptoms be reversed, you can find yourself resuming a productive and happy life. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms that could signal a problem.
Remember, though, that there are other causes for many of these symptoms that can be physical or just a result of stress. Having one or two doesn’t signal depression, but having many of them over a long period of time can signal problems.
Sleeping problems. You may feel like staying in bed and sleeping all day. Or you may be desperate for sleep but unable to find any relief. Either way, having disruptions in your sleep could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.
Concentration difficulties. Many people experiencing depression can feel a lack of focus. You may have a hard time completing tasks or even getting started on them. You may wander through the day and feel like you don’t get much accomplished.
Simple tasks such as reading emails or reading a book that once were mundane may begin to feel impossible. You may even have a hard time finishing a movie or TV show. This symptom will certainly affect your professional life and can make personal responsibilities a challenge.
Fatigue. Fatigue is more than feeling tired. It’s a chronic, sluggish feeling that really interferes with your daily activities. Everyone gets tired from time to time. However, fatigue is a feeling that you have no energy to take care of your tasks.
Having fatigue can make you feel like you simply can’t do what you need to do. You may want to get started on a project, clean your house, or get the garage organized but you feel like you just can’t do it.
Withdrawal from daily activities. You may have once enjoyed a busy social life, but now you find yourself just wanting to stay home. Withdrawal from social activities could be a sign that you’re really experiencing depression.
You may also find that activities you once enjoyed are not fulfilling. This could be something social such as participating in a club or something much more personal such as sex. If you’re finding that the things you once loved to do have lost their luster, it could be a depression sign.
Changes in appetite or weight. You may feel like eating all the time or you may have lost interest in eating. Either way, if you’re experiencing a change in your appetite it could signal depression.
Likewise, dramatic changes in your weight can be a sign of depression. Those changes can swing either way – major weight gain or major weight loss. Pay attention to the fit of your clothes. Are they clothes are hanging off your body or are they unusually tight?
Feeling hopeless and helpless. People experiencing depression often feel that there’s no hope of life getting any better. They feel destined to feel bad and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. When you’re not depressed, you can often see solutions to your problems.
However, depression can take away your ability to problem solve and seek help for your challenges. That’s one of the most debilitating aspects of depression – the feeling that there’s no hope. But there is hope and as you continue reading you’ll see some solutions to help beat your depression.
Feeling worthless or feelings of self-hatred. If you’re experiencing a serious depression, you may feel as if you have no worth. You may hate yourself and feel like there’s nothing valuable you contribute to society. However, this is not true.
Depression can be deceptive. It can make you feel like there’s nothing worthwhile about yourself, but everyone has something of worth to offer. Once you’re able to get some help for your depression, you’ll begin to realize your worth again.
Guilt feelings. Depression can also make you feel extreme, inappropriate guilt. You may have excessive guilt for things you’ve done in the past. When you may normally be able to forgive yourself, depression contributes to your inability to do so.
Excessive anger. Some people experience symptoms of depression that manifest as anger instead of hopelessness. You may find yourself lashing out at others for minor reasons. This is also a sign of depression, though it’s often overlooked.
Thoughts of death or suicide. The most serious sign of depression is a fixation on dying or thoughts of suicide. If you’re feeling suicidal, it’s critical that you get help right now – don’t wait.
Call a friend or family member who can help you. It may seem extreme, but you can also call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE. This number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s free and confidential and could be the help you need.
Deciphering the Symptoms of Depression
Remember that many of the above symptoms can be the result of health problems not related to depression. To be certain, you need to visit with a healthcare provider. He or she can help rule out any health conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms and point you in the right direction.
It’s normal to have one or two of these symptoms from time to time. Remember, that in order to be diagnosed with depression, you’ll be experiencing at least five of them for an extended period of time.
If you don’t fit the definition of clinical depression, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem. It just means that your problem isn’t as serious. It’s still a good idea to take a look at the solutions for depression and see if some of them could help you escape the negative feelings you’re experiencing.