Am I A Depressed Person?
By Toni Hoy
Updated July 10, 2019
If you're like most people, you might be able to recall a few times in your life when you went through an incredibly sad time. Most likely, you will also be able to recall a specific reason that preceded that very sad time. Maybe you wondered "Why am I so depressed?" Everyone feels sadness at times. It's a normal reaction to life's disappointments, problems, and occasional bouts of loneliness.
How do you know when sadness is more than just passing feelings? When is the best time to seek professional help? Depression is a clinical condition. In its most serious state, it can prevent people from being happy and living a normal life.
If you find yourself thinking, "I think I am depressed," you should know that the signs and symptoms of depression are recognizable. More importantly, scientists and researchers have discovered a few treatments that work well in treating symptoms of depression. The key to dealing with depression is to recognize the symptoms, get a proper diagnosis, know when to seek professional help, learn where to find it, and follow through with a treatment plan.
Why Do I Feel Depressed?
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine also wanted to know why people sometimes feel super depressed for unreasonably long periods of time. They found that at least 10% of people in the United States will go through a major depressive disorder sometime within their lifespan.
They also determined that major depression occurs twice as often in women as in men. Stanford researchers have been able to link the main causes of depression to genetics, physical factors, and psychological factors.
While researchers remain unclear about the exact cause of depression in various individuals and what percentage may be due to genetic factors, they suspect that genetics play a role in major depression in about 40% to 50% of cases.
If you've been diagnosed with depression, there's a fair chance that someone else in your family passed it down to you. Barring genetic links, there might be a physical cause within your body causing it, or you might be going through an incredibly difficult emotional time.
Regardless of the cause, it's important to seek medical or therapeutic advice so you can begin the proper course of treatment as soon as possible.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?
Early signs of depression can begin slowly and without treatment, they may worsen over time. If you have overwhelming signs of sadness and your sadness is causing physical symptoms, you should seek help from a professional. If depression lasts for more than a few days, that's another sign to seek professional help.
Are you having trouble concentrating? Do you keep forgetting the details of things? Do you struggle with decision-making? Do you have trouble sleeping and you're tired all the time? Do you have constant feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, pessimism, or hopelessness? Are you restless and irritable? Are you overeating or undereating? Do you have physical symptoms that won't go away even after treatment? Do you just feel blank, like a black cloud is continually hanging over your head? Have you lost interest in things you once enjoyed? Have you forgotten about sex? Have you thought about suicide or made an attempt to end your life?
These are all signs and symptoms of depression. If you find yourself constantly thinking, "I'm super depressed," life doesn't have to be this way. Help is available and all you have to do is ask for it. Recognizing symptoms for the depressed person is the first step to getting help.
Why Is Depression So Common?
Chances are pretty good that even though you've been to an infinite number of family gatherings, you don't recall any of the senior members of the family talking about depression or mental health challenges. That's probably not because it didn't exist back then. It's also probably not because it wasn't as common as it is today.
The most reasonable assumption that depression is so common today is because we now know what we're looking for. Over the past 50-75 years, many people didn't know what it was, let alone what to call it. Even if they knew what it was, they didn't get treatment for it because treatment simply wasn't available back then.
The answer to the question, "Why are so many people depressed?" may be nothing more than the fact that we now accept the condition as a brain disorder, which makes us feel freer to talk about it and see it for what it is. While we now have a name for it, depression is often more recognizable by its symptoms than its diagnoses. Many people just aren't able to connect the symptoms with having the disorder.
Why Do People Suffer More With It?
Have you ever wondered, "Why are so many people depressed?" There may be many new reasons that there are so many depressed people. Many of the reasons are superficial in comparison with the reasons of the past few decades. Society has changed pretty substantially. Our relationships and ties to our communities are weaker than they once were.
Many people are focused on college and career paths. Some are looking for fame, wealth, a certain lifestyle, or an image. We tend to expect a lot from ourselves and also from others. It's nice to have goals, but when we put our all into them and have nothing to show for it, all that remains for a lot of people is depression, hopelessness and despair.
When to Seek Help for Depression
Most importantly, if you know of anyone who is depressed and having thoughts of harming themselves or others, they need professional crisis help now. Don't delay! Call your local suicide hotline, contact a mental health professional or go the nearest emergency room right away.
Don't leave the person alone and don't try to deal with the situation yourself.
If depressive symptoms are causing problems with your relationships, work, friends, or family, a licensed counselor can help. Call a representative at BetterHelp and get matched with the perfect counselor today.
Having feelings of depression doesn't mean that you have depression. Seek help if your symptoms don't get better within a few days, especially if you are having changes in your sleep, energy, appetite, focus, and motivation. Even if you don't receive a formal diagnosis of depression, early treatment can help prevent the symptoms from getting worse or going into a dark depression.
The Journey to Seeking Professional Help
Your first stop of your journey should be to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. There's no single test for depression; however, there are ways that doctors can screen for depression. Usually, they start with a physical and mental health history and follow that with a physical examination.
Your doctor will likely ask you many questions. He or she will want to know what your symptoms are, when they started, how severe they are, and how long they tend to last. Since depression is often genetic, your doctor will want to know if other members of your family have depression or other types of mental illnesses. Your doctor will probably also ask if you've had similar symptoms in the past, how they were treated, and whether the treatment was successful. People living with depression sometimes try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Your physician should ask if you're struggling with substance abuse, but if not, you should disclose it.
Medical doctors do their due diligence and try to rule out any physical cause for the depression. Barring any physical reason for the depression, the doctor will develop a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms. Treatment may include taking a prescription for an anti-depressant, starting therapy sessions, or both.
What Happens If Depression Goes Untreated?
If you choose to delay getting professional help for depression, symptoms could quickly get worse. Symptoms could last for months or years and cause deep, emotional pain. About half of the people suffering from depression never seek treatment.
It's especially important for people who are having thoughts or discussions about suicide to get immediate help from a crisis suicide counselor or a first responder. Be especially concerned with symptoms such as a sudden change from depression to extreme calmness, or suddenly putting on the appearance of being happy. Take note of a person who talks or thinks about death. People who are thinking about suicide may take risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving or standing on a steep ledge. Be very concerned about individuals who make comments about feeling hopeless or worthless and use language like, "I just want out" or "Everything would be better if I wasn't here."
Take note if someone you're concerned about seems to be putting their final affairs in order, writing a will, changing a will, or tying up personal loose ends. People who intend to end their lives sometimes make final visits or phone calls to their loved ones. Always be thinking safety, safety, safety. Reach out to them and get them the proper help.