How To Know If You Are Depressed: 11 Signs To Notice And When To Get Help
A person can feel down but not realize they are experiencing symptoms of depression. Since depression affects people differently, it is essential to understand what to look for and when to seek help. It is common to feel sad or lonely, especially when dealing with life struggles or personal loss. But when such feelings become overwhelming and affect your emotional and physical well-being, they may keep you from living a productive lifestyle. When you notice these changes, it is time to seek help.
Feeling Down and Being Depressed is Not the Same
Symptoms of depression can affect a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. Common symptoms include trouble sleeping, appetite changes, and problems concentrating. They affect how you think, what you do, and how you feel physically. A depressed person may not feel motivated to do their usual activities. A person may feel persistent sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness, decreased energy, loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, or want to isolate themselves from others. Relationships with family, friends, and coworkers may be affected.
Someone experiencing symptoms of depression may not take care of themselves as they should. The way they think about their health, such as how to manage chronic issues such as arthritis, diabetes, or high blood pressure, may leave one feeling discouraged. When a depressed person feels hopeless, self-care is less of a priority and potentially increases personal health risks. Depression is a medical condition that affects you emotionally and physically. However, these elements are influenced by each other, leaving a drastic effect on a person’s thoughts and actions.
11 Signs to Notice When Feeling Depressed
When you feel depressed, you may experience one or multiple symptoms of depression. Such feelings are persistent, and it’s not easy to shake them off. Since symptoms affect people differently, they should be a red flag to see your doctor or mental health professional.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, signs of depression may include the following:
- Loss of interest or withdrawal from activities. Many depressed individuals experience a lack of enjoyment of activities they used to look forward to, such as hobbies or hanging out with friends. Some also lack sexual pleasure.
- Feeling hopeless. Such feelings may include feeling unnecessary guilt or worthlessness. A person may struggle with low self-esteem, blame themselves when it’s not their fault, or feel like things are pointless. Few even experience self-hate. Sometimes this symptom is associated with major depression, a form of severe depression.
- Feeling fatigued or change in sleep patterns. Many lack interest in doing regular activities because they don’t have the energy. Some experience insomnia or sleep too much. Lack of proper rest may lead to feeling agitated or anxious. Many that take a depression test or quiz online are asked about energy levels and how they affect their daily activities.
- Inability to concentrate. Having trouble focusing on tasks and activities goes hand in hand with a lack of interest and feeling fatigued. Some experience difficulty in making decisions and remembering things.
- It is common for depression and anxiety to appear together, but anxiety may include symptoms such as heavy sweating, feeling nervous, trouble thinking clearly, rapid breathing, and feeling panicked.
- Irritability and risky behavior. Depression may appear differently in men than in women. Men may express more anger with irritability. When a person feels irritable, they don’t want to be bothered by others. They may find risky behaviors such as substance abuse as a way to escape their feelings.
- Unexplained aches or pains. People may not have anything physically wrong with them, but they may experience achy joints, muscles, upset stomach, or headaches. Persistent physical symptoms may not respond to treatment.
- Appetite and weight changes. Depressed individuals may eat more or less, resulting in weight fluctuation. These changes may occur unintentionally.
- Lack of emotional control. Mood swings may occur without influence from others. Sometimes a person may feel sad, angry, empty, or frustrated suddenly. Others may feel like bursting into tears for no reason or cry uncontrollably.
- Feeling pessimistic. A person may feel indifferent about the present. They may not care about their future or think things don’t matter anymore.
- Thoughts of death or suicide. In many cases, a depressed person shows or experiences symptoms before self-harm occurs. Warning signs that an individual may be at risk for suicide include talking about wanting to die or having no reason to live, discussing feelings of hopelessness/unbearable pain, giving away important possessions, tying up loose ends, increase in substance use or risky behavior, and a sudden switch in mood or behavior. If you notice any of these signs, reach out for urgent help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or your local emergency number.
If you experience five or more symptoms for two weeks or more, you may be depressed. Determining if you have depression may not include taking a depression test, but it will involve reviewing your history with your doctor or mental health professional. They will want to know what symptoms you’ve experienced, for how long, the severity, and if mental illnesses run in your family. They may also want to see if you have a history of drugs or alcohol. Your doctor or mental health professional can then determine a diagnosis and help you to explore treatment options.
Why Does Depression Happen?
Depression may not have a single cause, but there are factors such as life-changing events, environment, thinking patterns affecting how a person reacts to change, and genetics that may play a role in how symptoms develop. Grieving the loss of a loved one may lead to depression. Living conditions such as homelessness, poverty, or violence may lead to feeling depressed. Hormone changes or unknown medical conditions may contribute to changes in mood and depression.
While many people live with depression, depression may be unexplained. Some people have experienced symptoms of depression and can’t pinpoint why. Some may not realize something they saw or felt triggered their symptoms. Personal situations such as getting sick, financial troubles, job loss, or trauma may contribute to feeling depressed. Circumstances such as changes in weather (seasonal affective disorder or SAD), smoking, thyroid issues, poor sleeping habits, social media overload, or poor family relations are other possible causes.
Why Its Important to Know the Signs
Some people may feel depressed for a prolonged period and not realize that depression is taking a toll on how they live their life. Knowing if you are depressed helps you gain control of your mental and physical well-being. Recognizing the warning signs of depression enables you to break the cycle. When you feel persistent sadness, you feel stuck in a downward spiral. Recognizing the signs is a start in the right direction toward relief and recovery.
When a person experiences depression, depression is more than just feeling down or having a bad day. Feeling down is short-lived when you’re unhappy about something or facing life’s struggles. You know what cheers you up and how to feel good again. Things may not get to you as easily, or you’re not so hard on yourself. You may feel sad for a moment, but you accept the outcome of the situation and move on.
A depressed person may find it challenging to accept a compliment or constructive criticism. It gets harder to get things done due to a lack of energy and inability to focus on a task. It is challenging to see yourself in a positive light because of habitually putting yourself down. You may feel unworthy when you are just as deserving as anyone else.
It is crucial to notice the signs because it raises emotional awareness about yourself. It is the perfect time to reassess your mental and physical health. Taking good care of yourself includes recognizing the state of your emotional health so you can take advantage of options to help you feel better. You don’t have to live feeling depressed every day because there are people who care that want to help.
How to Get Help When Feeling Depressed
While some may consider taking a free depression test or quiz online to gain insight, there can be more productive ways to learn about your feelings and how to manage them. You can contact your doctor and talk to them about your symptoms. Your doctor may conduct a detailed assessment, including a physical exam and blood testing to rule out medical concerns.
Keep in mind, these actions are not considered a depression test, but they are significant in diagnosing depression. Sometimes doctors refer patients to a mental health specialist to explore additional treatment options based on your symptoms.
Therapy has helped millions of children and adults with depression. In-person therapy sessions may include one-on-one talk sessions and group sessions with peers. Medication is available to help control emotions. Online therapy sessions are and convenient while letting you choose when to do sessions based on your schedule. Therapy is a comprehensive way of dealing with your emotions while learning practical methods to help you reach goals and improve your mental health.
Once you’ve recognized signs and how they have affected your life, it is time to take the first step to feeling better by reaching out. It is common to feel uncomfortable or fearful when considering getting help, but you are not the only person that feels this way. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, rather a sign that you’re willing to give things a try.
Other Commonly Asked Questions
Is it possible to diagnose yourself with depression?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5), an individual must experience at least five of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:
- Persistent low mood
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Significant changes in weight or decreased/increased appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns (such as trouble sleeping or excessive sleeping)
- Decreased energy and fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness or extreme guilt
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, reach out for urgent help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
If you believe you may be experiencing depression, it is crucial to seek the support of your doctor or a mental health professional who can provide an official diagnosis and guide you in exploring treatment options.
Does depression count as an illness?
Yes. Depression is a serious mood disorder that can significantly impact an individual’s daily functioning and quality of life. The National Institute of Mental Health states that depression is attributed to a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. Having a family history of depression can increase one’s risk of developing depression themselves. In many cases, stressful life events (such as the loss of a loved one) can trigger depression symptoms for the first time. For some individuals, particularly older adults, symptoms of depression may occur alongside a medical illness.
Some people with depression may be hesitant to seek treatment, due to seeing it as a sign of weakness. It is important for people experiencing depression to remember that what they are going through is not their fault, and there are treatment options available (such as talk therapy and/or medication) that can help them to manage their symptoms. Individuals with seasonal depression may also benefit from light therapy, which involves using red lights, to improve mood.
In addition to seeking professional help, making certain lifestyle changes can help to reduce symptoms of depression, including:
- Following a nutritious diet
- Getting regular physical activity
- Prioritizing adequate sleep
- Cultivating a strong support system (which may include family, close friends, or a support group)
- Engaging in healthy coping skills and stress management techniques