Life is full of ups and downs, but what if the downs don’t seem to let up? Have you found yourself feeling down more often than not? Maybe your self pep talks just aren’t cutting it anymore. Experiencing high levels of negative or gloomy thoughts could be the starting signs of depression.
Depression is more common than you might think. In fact, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, the condition affects approximately 7% of the American adult population. That’s around 17 million people. Moreover, that number only pertains to those who have been diagnosed, meaning there are probably many more.
You might suspect that you’re depressed, but how do you know for sure? And, how do you go about treating it? There are many key signs of depression to look for, as well as many resources for treatment. Keep reading to help discover whether or not you might be depressed and what you can do to combat it.
What Are the Signs?
While depression is a different experience for everyone, there are some common signs healthcare providers look for to establish a diagnosis. If you’ve been wondering if you’re depressed or not, truthfully assess yourself while reading through these symptoms. If you can identify with several of these traits, there is a high probability you’re dealing with depression.
Changes in Mood or Behavior
When depressed, you might feel as though you’re “in a funk.” The condition isn’t necessarily just being sad all the time, contrary to popular opinion. You might feel downcast, bored, irritable, overwhelmed, or hopeless on most days. You could find yourself repeatedly dwelling on negative thoughts, like self-doubt or anxiety about the future. Some feel angry or confused often, potentially due to the inability to process these new emotions.
Additionally, you might find that your behaviors will begin to change alongside these different moods. Along with hopelessness, you could begin to lose interest in activities that used to bring you joy. Changes in how you eat could occur, ranging from losing your appetite to eating too much, also called binging.
Sleep Issues and Fatigue
Another common symptom of depression is a change in your sleep habits or recurring fatigue. Feeling tired throughout the day often follows along with this condition, as a loss of energy is usual. This is related to how much of a toll depression is on your body and mind — you’ll likely feel worn out. You might find it a struggle to make it through the day without a nap.
You may also be experiencing new patterns of sleeping. You might discover that your usual eight hours a night doesn’t make you feel rested in the morning anymore. Sleeping longer is a typical result of exhaustion, no matter if it’s physical or mental. You could have trouble falling or staying asleep. Insomnia affects many people with depression, and it’s a difficult symptom to deal with.
An inability to concentrate like normal can be another sign of depression. The condition can cloud your thoughts, making you feel as though you’re in a daze. Some people call this brain fog. You also might experience an easily distracted or wandering mind, or even racing thoughts.
Sometimes this symptom is brought upon by fatigue or anxiety. If you’re not sleeping enough due to insomnia, it could be even more difficult to focus. Though the symptoms you experience and the severity of them will differ from person to person.
How Do You Treat Depression?
While it’s not encouraged to self-diagnose, if you fit most or all of the aforementioned symptoms, it could be very likely you’re experiencing depression. So, what do you do now? Below are some of the most trusted methods for treating depression.
Taking medication to combat the effects of depression is very common. Antidepressants can be relatively affordable and effective. There are a couple different kinds you might look into, from NDRIs to SSRIs.
Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), like Wellbutrin, are one type of antidepressant. These work by allowing the brain to absorb more of the hormones norepinephrine and dopamine, which both are partly responsible for mood control. These medications are used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder, and they also act as a smoking cessation aid.
Another often-prescribed antidepressant category includes selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These work in the same fashion as NDRIs, although they target better absorption of serotonin rather than norepinephrine or dopamine. Common brand names are Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft.
The availability and affordability of these medications make them accessible choices for many individuals seeking relief from depression. You can even get them online if your depression is making it harder to leave the house. Consulting a qualified healthcare professional can help guide the decision-making process, ensuring you get the right treatment for your needs.
While medication can be an essential part of managing depression, it is often most effective when combined with other therapeutic approaches, such as counseling. While a non-therapeutic healthcare provider can diagnose you, they’re only trained to treat you medicinally. Sometimes it can be a good idea to also have a therapist to speak to. Seeing a therapist can offer a comprehensive approach to tackling the challenges of depression and promoting overall mental well-being.
Therapists are licensed counselors who have undergone years of training in psychology. By providing a safe and confidential space, therapists facilitate open conversations that empower individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. They can help people identify their problems and create action plans to overcome these issues.
There are many different approaches therapists could take, each tailored to meet specific needs and preferences. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on problem-solving and identifying the links between thoughts and actions. Through CBT, individuals learn to identify negative thought patterns and develop healthier ways of thinking and responding to stressors. This can eventually lead to improved coping skills and a more positive outlook.
It Takes Effort
To overcome depression and make life more manageable, you’ll need to put in the work. As they say, “the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem.” Therefore, you can’t be in denial of your feelings. Stand strong in the face of this challenge, and know that you can get through it. Use your resources, and remember you can handle whatever comes your way.