How Could I Possibly Have Depression?

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many of us are familiar with the concept of depression, but when it starts to affect our lives or the lives of those close to us, it can be challenging to reckon with. If you suspect you may be experiencing depression, it can be important to first understand why. But doing so is often easier said than done; many things can play into depression, and several of the symptoms it leads to can worsen its severity. In this article, we'll discuss what depression is, where it often comes from, and what you can do to begin to manage it.

What is depression?

Are you experiencing symptoms of depression?

People who have a major depressive disorder, often referred to simply as "depression," often feel a persistent sense of sadness and a loss of interest in things that previously brought joy. They may have difficulty performing day-to-day functions and lose interest in things like hobbies and personal passions. Changes to professional life, relationships, substance use, and other things can result from depression.

Aside from those already mentioned, common symptoms of depression include:

  • Low energy, fatigue

  • Feelings of apathy or disinterest in others

  • Changes in sleep: sleeping too little or too much

  • Changes in appetite: eating too little or too much

Clinical depression goes beyond the realm of regular sadness. People with clinical depression often feel emotionally numb and empty. Every speed bump they encounter in life can feel like a monumental crisis that they won't be able to handle. This is distinct from temporary feelings of sadness or acute depression, which typically lasts only a short while.  

Having emotional reactions to life events is perfectly normal, and although it may seem that the feelings last forever, they normally don't. However, if you find that you still feel sad or anxious about the same thing for several months or you no longer function normally and lose interest in things you once loved, it may be time to consult a professional.

Why do I have depression?

Traumatic or stressful events can lead to depression. There may also be a genetic component; if you have a family member with depression, you may be more likely to experience it yourself. More women than men are diagnosed with depression, though this may be because men don't seek treatment as often.

With so many factors to consider, it's difficult to say exactly why each case of depression evolves. However, experts agree that chronic, clinical depression often stems from a combination of multiple things, especially when these stressors persist for a long time.

How do I know if I’m depressed? Is there a depression test I can take?

Only a licensed mental health professional can give you an official diagnosis. While online quizzes and advice can be helpful, you should use them only as stepping stones to begin discussing your mental health with a professional. They should never be used to replace professional diagnosis or treatment.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

If you have symptoms of depression, it may be beneficial to reach out for help; even if you don't qualify for a diagnosis, it's possible that another mental health condition or another concern might be behind your symptoms. Mental illnesses like anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and more may create symptoms that closely mimic depression. Professional support and solutions can make a huge difference when it comes to treating your symptoms.

Do I have an anxiety disorder?

It's important to remember that, like depression, an anxiety disorder is a clinical mental condition. Feeling overwhelmed by work or stressed about a sudden temporary financial strain doesn't necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder. Those issues can lead to anxiety, and if the symptoms linger after the stressful situation resolves, it may be time to discuss it with a licensed mental health professional.

As mentioned, some anxiety disorder symptoms are similar to those of depression. Therefore, you should always receive a proper diagnosis from a licensed mental health professional, no matter what your symptoms are. 

What to do if you are depressed

Getting the appropriate help is perhaps the most important thing to focus on if you believe you may be depressed. The sooner you seek that help and begin treatment, the sooner you can begin feeling like yourself again.

Be sure to reach out to your friends and family, too. It can be challenging to talk to our loved ones about our experiences, but having a strong support system is often a vital part of combatting depression in the long term. Simply opening up about how you feel may be the first step toward feeling less alone.

In addition to support from others, working with a licensed professional, like a therapist, can be highly beneficial. Online therapy may be particularly convenient when managing depression, thanks to its accessibility. There's no need to go to an office or even leave bed – online therapy makes it possible to access the care you deserve in a way that feels approachable to you. 

Online therapy has been shown to be effective, too, even for treating symptoms of clinical depression. One study noted that online therapy can support significant, meaningful improvement in symptoms of depression. Participants demonstrated noticeable changes in the severity of their symptoms, suggesting that online treatment can be just as beneficial as traditional options.

Are you experiencing symptoms of depression?


Where exactly depression stems from can be tough to pinpoint, but it can be even more challenging to experience the symptoms without understanding why. Genetics, lifetime experiences, stress, mental health disorders, and other factors may influence your risk of developing depression. No matter where it comes from, though, depression is treatable, and symptoms can be improved. A mental health professional can offer the support and techniques you may need to feel like yourself again.
Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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