Your First Steps: Everything You Need to Initially Know About Depression
Before we go any further, please know that if you are dealing with depression, or you have a loved one who suffers from this condition, you are not alone. You may feel like you are, and that’s perfectly common. However, over 15 million adults from the age of 18 and up are estimated to have faced depression at least once in their lives, and that number continues to rise.
Admitting that you or someone you love has depression, or even knowing that you do, is not always easy. Here is everything that you need to know about depression initially to make the first move to get help.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
Many people ask, How do I know if I’m depressed? This is a great question because being depressed is different than being sad.
Sadness and depression share a lot of the same surface symptoms – you may feel hopeless or blah, you may be irritable, and you may even exhibit physical symptoms that manifest because of your feelings. But sadness can generally be traced to a specific cause – a break-up, a death, or a loss of some sort, while depression takes on a more severe quality.
If you are concerned that you may be depressed, initially consider whether or not any of these symptoms apply to you:
- Feelings of sadness or anxiety, or simply feeling “blah,” for an extended period of time,
- Feelings of guilt for things you really know we’re not your fault, or feeling helpless over things you can’t control,
- Lack of hope that things will get better or a generally pessimistic outlook on the future,
- Lack of interest in things that used to give you pleasure,
- Physical manifestations of sadness such as loss of energy, trouble sleeping, overall fatigue, a “mental fog,” general restlessness, and changes in your appetite,
- A focus on thoughts of death or considerations of suicide and suicide attempts.
While some of these symptoms taken by themselves that can be traced back to a trigger could simply mean that you are sad about something, a combination or lengthy persistence of any of them may mean that you – or your loved one – is depressed.
Reaching Out for That First Step of Help
Many people refuse to reach out for help out of fear of the reaction of others. They worry about the stigma that may come with being diagnosed as depressed or they think that this diagnosis means that they have a “crazy” problem. Sadly, our culture itself often considers mental problems like a bad thing and people are afraid to seek help for fear of repercussion.
Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of, though – it’s something you need to embrace, accept, and then treat just like any other health condition. And, like having a heart condition or diabetes, it’s not something that you have to tell the world that you are living with if you don’t want to.
If you are concerned that you may be depressed, the first thing you need to do is take the initiative to make a change. Find something that used to give you passion and force yourself to do it – no matter how hard it is. Start a journal to write out your thoughts and feelings.
Find someone that you trust to talk to about your concerns, and then get professional help. If the therapist you start using does not feel comfortable, find another one, but don’t give up treatment. The right therapy can make a world of difference.
Along with your journey to climbing out of the pits of depression, remember that you are not alone, and by reaching out for help, you have taken the first step in bringing back the light to your daily life.