Feeling low sometimes is a normal part of life. But when you find yourself feeling hopeless and no longer enjoying life, you may have depression. Believe it or not, depression is something that affects 1 in 4 people in the world population, and yet so many people will suffer in silence because either they don’t know the signs, how to help themselves, or what support is available for them.
What is Depression?
First of all, what is depression? It’s the most common mood disorder that causes ongoing feelings of sadness and loss of interest in day-to-day activities. Clinical depression can be diagnosed by a healthcare professional and there are many treatments available including talking therapies, medication, and changing your lifestyle.
Ten signs you may have Depression
- The first sign that you may have depression is having a negative outlook on your life and feeling hopeless. If you ever find yourself pondering the question of “what’s the point?” or “why am I even here?” It is a major sign of depression that should not be ignored. We all have days where we feel defeated or blue but if you continually vocalize internally or externally that you don’t see any hope or purpose to your existence, it’s time to seek help from a professional.
- Another sign of depression is thinking about dying or death. Alarmingly, over 700,000 people take their own life every year, a large proportion of that number suffered from depression and didn’t seek help. If you ever find yourself wondering what it would be like to die or that no one would miss you if you suddenly disappeared, seek help immediately. There are numbers available in every country, suicide hotlines, emergency services and mental health charities. There is always someone to call, always someone that will help you. You are not alone.
- A common sign of depression is having mood swings or not being able to control your emotions. You may find yourself struggling to contain your big emotions such as sadness and anger. Having outbursts without warning or finding yourself crying uncontrollably are signs of depression.
- Feeling tired and having no energy is another sign of depression. Sleep disturbances of any kind, whether it’s insomnia or sleeping too much, ongoing fatigue are troublesome and can affect your mood, productivity, and actions.
- Having a problem with your appetite can also be a sign of depression. If you find yourself overeating as a coping mechanism or skipping meals because you have lost interest in your favorite foods, it could be time to take a trip to see the doctor. Once anything physical is ruled out, you may be asked how you have been feeling and find out if your change in eating habits is affected by a mental disorder like depression.
- Losing interest in your hobbies and passions is another sign of depression. If you find yourself with a lack of motivation for things that you once enjoyed or no longer make time for yourself and keep yourself busy with work, this could be a sign that your mental health is declining.
- Do you struggle to concentrate or remember information? This could also be another sign of depression. We all get forgetful sometimes but if you persistently feel like you have a brain fog that won’t lift or your lack of focus starts to interfere with your daily routine, you should get checked by a doctor.
- Another sign of depression can be unexplained aches and pains in your body. depression can also have an effect on your physical health, including joint pain, bloating, backaches and headaches. If you feel like you have heavy limbs or have unusual fatigue, this may also be depression, but make sure other physical ailments are ruled out first by your doctor.
- Believe it or not, anxiety can also be a sign of depression. Although Anxiety can be a mental health condition on its own, it is quite normal to experience frequent outbursts of stress and anxiety when you are suffering from depression too. Anxiety and depression often manifest alongside each other, so if you have a level of anxiety that doesn’t go on its own, this might also be a sign of clinical depression.
- Intrusive or negative thoughts are another sign you could be depressed. If you have low self-esteem and you are convincing yourself that you are not worthy or you do not deserve happiness, seek help from a mental health professional. It’s normal to have negative thought patterns but if they are overwhelming you, please seek advice and support from the appropriate places.
What should I do next?
If you are reading this and thinking you may have depression, please seek the right help and support from professionals. The first stage of helping yourself is acceptance. Once you accept that you might have a problem, you are one step closer to finding the solution. The second stage is diagnosis. Once you have confirmation from your doctor that you are suffering from depression, you have a few important decisions to make regarding the best way to manage it.
If you are open to speaking about what is bothering you, counseling or therapy is a valid option and a successful one to help treat depression. There are many places where you can access therapy for free online or with a mental health professional through your doctor's referral. It’s scary to be vulnerable and talk to a stranger about your personal experiences and feelings but talking therapies are one of the best ways to manage depression. Medication is also another route you might want to take, this doesn’t work for everyone and your doctor will have this discussion with you to see if it would be beneficial.
Depression is not something that always lasts forever, with the right interventions, treatments, and determination, many people fully recover from depression. Others have phases of depression throughout their life and have tools and techniques to manage it effectively. Whatever it might be for you, just know that you are not alone in your journey. There are people out there that will support you through this difficult time.