Everyone can feel sad, blue, unhappy or even miserable from time to time. These feelings are usually short lived and are often a very natural response to unexpected difficulties in life. Sometimes feelings like this can come from nowhere or no specific trigger can be identified. Often, these feelings resolve themselves or are dealt with with the support of family and friends. You may also wish to seek out the help of a doctor, counsellor or support group.
Depression is a condition that is more than just having a bad day, or a reaction to sad news or disappointment. It lasts longer and is harder to alleviate that normal feelings of sadness or unhappiness. The condition can and often does interfere with our everyday lives. You may be suffering clinical depression if the feelings last more than two weeks and they interfere with your ability to do everyday tasks. Depression can be caused by an underlying physical condition or it could be part of a mental health problem. Unfortunately, from mild depression to major depressive disorder, the number of people who experience depression and other mental disorders is rising every year.
There are many depression symptoms which last anything from a number of weeks to years. People with depression typically experience a combination of:
Depression is categorized into mild, moderate and severe depression or it may be part of a condition called Bipolar Disorder. The signs of depression are often easy to miss or are misunderstood. Depression can affect any person of any age, any status, or any gender. It does not discriminate.
While we need to watch for the various signs of depression, three important signs are lack of energy, sleeping difficulties and negative feelings that last more than two weeks and affect your ability or function in everyday life.
What to Do If You Think You Have Depression? Only a qualified mental health professional can make a diagnosis of depression. If some of the symptoms listed above sound familiar and you suspect you may be suffering with depression, it is advisable to make an appointment with your doctor for an assessment.
There are many different things, some of which you can do for yourself, that can improve symptoms of depression. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, exercise regularly, spend time with friends and establish a solid sleep routine. Avoid or significantly reduce your consumption of alcohol, which is a long-term depressant (meaning it can make your symptoms worse). Avoid other harmful substances which can also negatively impact your health and well-being, like tobacco and other narcotics.
Talk it out – with a friend, a family member or with a counsellor. Talking about what you’re feeling often relieves some of the burden of depression.
Talk with your doctor, who will examine you to determine whether the symptoms could be a part of some other condition and will also talk to you about options to feel better.
Make use of community, support groups and other organizations where you can get help to improve your systems. If you are having trouble avoiding alcohol or other substances, you could try a local AA or NA chapter for support.