Recognizing and Addressing Depression

Jul 2, 2019 by

About 3.4 percent of all Americans suffer from major depression and nearly one in ten of us say that we’re depressed on occasion. Still, many of us don’t realize how big of a deal depression can be, or just how real our symptoms actually are. If left unchecked, depression can have tragic consequences. That’s why it’s so important to recognize your own symptoms and, if necessary, address depression and related issues.

Clinical depression is very real, but you don’t necessarily have to get “clinical” in examining your own mental health. All you need to do is be mindful of your own thoughts, feelings, and moods. Once in a while, check in with yourself: How are you feeling? What has your home and work life been like lately? Checklists and quizzes may help, too, but the important thing is that you take time to consider your own mind. Here’s what to look for when you do, and what to do about depression if you have it.

What depression looks and feels like

Everyone feels sad some of the time, but depression is something different than that. How do you know if you have depression?

Depression is characterized by feelings of hopeless sadness or emptiness. The consistency and severity of these feelings is one thing that sets depression apart from merely being sad. Some describe depression in terms of what the default state is. If you consider happiness temporary condition and emptiness the usual one, then you may be suffering from depression.

That’s all a bit subjective, of course. Recognizing depression gets a bit easier when we use more concrete symptoms. It’s important to note that not every depressed person exhibits all of these symptoms. However, if you’re showing a bunch of them, then you may be depressed. Lack of energy can be a sign of depression, as can irregular sleeping habits. Losing interest in things you once enjoyed or a loss or gain of appetite can be symptoms, too. Watch out for specific feelings of failure, indecision, and guilt, especially when they lead you to consider self-harm or to think that life is not worth living.

Again, you don’t have to take a quiz to recognize these symptoms, but running through one online might help you identify the problem. If you think you may be suffering from depression, you need to take action.

What to do when you think you might be depressed

If you think that you might be suffering from depression, the most important thing that you can do is to get immediate help. Depression is not something that you want to battle alone, and trying to do so doesn’t make you tough or self-reliant — it just puts you at a more severe risk.

Start by finding a mental health provider, experts say. This can be as simple as searching “therapist near me” online, or asking your primary care physician for a referral. You may want to check in with your health insurance provider to make sure that you get as much of your treatment covered as possible. While getting help is all-important, there’s no sense in spending any more than you have to. With the help of a trusted mental health professional like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist, you can learn more about your options for treating depression.

Those options may include prescription medications, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes. It’s important to remember that your mental health is related to all other areas of your health, and that you could help your depression by doing things like eating better, exercising more, and cutting back on drinking. Regardless of what you do in your personal life, though, make sure that you’re not going through this alone. Depression is a serious health issue that demands the attention of trained mental health professionals. With the right help, it shall pass.

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