Depression can be quite tricky as it can sneak up on you; you don’t realize it until you’re too far gone and you can’t find your way out. Also, depression may leave you feeling that you’re sinking into a pit, and no matter what you grab onto, you can’t pull yourself free. The more you struggle the deeper you sink. It’s hard to let people know when something is wrong, especially when they openly ask you if you’re okay. Even if every fiber of your being wants to tell them, what comes out of your mouth is simply ‘I’m fine.’

However, if you’re conscientious of your own body, you might be able to identify the symptoms of depression as they arise, and then treat them before they become a serious problem. Or, you acknowledge you’re depressed and you’re looking for the next step to handle the problem. Either way, your journey is incredibly important. While some may not understand what it is you are going through, don’t let that sway you from your path.

There are a number of programs available to help you confront your depression and manage it in a healthy manner. These programs may also teach you how to deal with your symptoms for many years to come. But first, you have to be able to identify your symptoms and what you should do about them.

Mood

This one can be fairly difficult to identify, but if you’re aware of what to look out for, it can be easier on you. Here are a few examples:

  • Apathy: Having depression makes it difficult to identify your emotions and relate to other individuals. 
    One way to manage this is by practicing to open up a bit more each day and be honest with how you feel. This will take practice, but, over time, you may notice a change in the apathy you were feeling before.
  • Loss of Interest: This one is incredibly easy to identify. Let’s say you used to play the guitar, and after you started to get depressed, you just couldn’t bring yourself to pick it up again because you don’t hold the same interest as you did before. You view it as more of a chore than a fun hobby.
    One way you can treat this is either picking up your guitar and actively trying to play it or try something new that captures your attention.
  • Hopelessness: This one can fall hand-in-hand with suicidal thoughts, but the general idea is that you’re losing that will to carry on. You’re seeing less of a point in everyday living, you feel broken, and you feel lost. 
    This one may be harder to manage on your own, especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts, and should be brought up with a trained professional.
  • Mood swings: You could be feeling happy for a second, then you fall into this irresistible urge to cry or getting angry at someone for something they may not have done. It’s almost like sitting on a hare trigger and you don’t know when it will go off.
    If you’re experiencing mood swings, it’s best if you consult a professional.
  • Sadness: This one can be fueled by everything else you’re feeling or sadness may be the root cause of your feelings.  
    This might be worth discussing at length with a trained professional as they may help you identify what is directly causing this level of sadness.
  • Guilt: This one might be caused by a feeling that you don’t deserve to be happy, or you don’t deserve to lead a happy life, and the guilt is tethered to this like an anchor. This one should be treated the same as your sense of sadness or hopelessness.

Behavioral

These symptoms are easily identified by others, depending on how well they know you. If you suspect that you may be having depression, it’s best if you ask close friends or family members if you’re experiencing these behavioral symptoms:

  • Agitation: You’re easily angered or set off by the simplest of things, and you’re not entirely sure why it upset you so much. For this, it may be worth taking the time to react, count inside your head, and let yourself identify the emotions you’re feeling underneath that may be causing agitation and irritation.
  • Social Isolation: This is where you would rather spend your time by yourself as the company of others is too draining and you leave feeling exhausted because that interaction completely drained your social battery. 
    Sometimes, the best way to handle something is to immerse yourself in it. Hang out with your friends even when you don’t feel like it and just create the habit. But make sure they understand where your boundaries lie.
  • Crying: If you find you’re spending more and more of your time crying than you have before, it may be worth talking to a friend or family member and let them know what is going on. That way, someone is able to lend a hand, helping you feel less alone in the world. 
    They don’t have to know everything about depression based on firsthand experience, but having a listening ear can do a lot for an individual.
  • Excessive Sleeping: One common sign of depression that having the need to sleep the problems away rather than deal with it head-on.
    What might help is creating a routine where you have to get out of bed and do what you need to get ready for the day. Also, try to focus on one step at a time. Remember, even if it seems insignificant, you’re further along than you were yesterday.
  • Insomnia: Pretty much the opposite of excessive sleeping, you’re spending more of your time awake at night, either playing games because you can’t sleep or simply laying there thinking about whatever comes to mind. 
    Insomnia is hard to treat on your own, but there are a number of over-the-counter sleep aids, such as melatonin, that might be able to help.
  • Chemical Dependence: An easy way to run away from what you’re experiencing is through drugs and/or alcohol. 
    Drugs and alcohol are no joke as they can seem harmless at first, but it’s incredibly easy to get hooked. After which, you then get stuck in a vicious cycle of using it, which would just extend your depressive state.

Your Body and Mind

With this set of symptoms, you may be able to notice these, but you can’t just bring yourself to care because of your lack of interest.

  • Weight Gain/Loss: Identifying depression as a lack of eating may not always be the case. Sometimes, it can be the exact opposite. You may also eat more food than you have in the past. Then, you notice a significant weight gain, but you don’t do anything to turn that fat into something healthy for your body so you continue to tack it on overtime. 
    The opposite is also true. You may have lost a lot of weight but you aren’t interested in eating because it seems like a chore to prepare the food and do the dishes after. 
    If one of these is the case, it may help to speak to a nutritionist and a therapist as they can help you identify solutions.
  • Concentration: The lack of concentration means that you let your mind drift away to different things. If you do try to focus on something, you simply find your mind drifting anyway. 
    For instance, when you’re doing your math homework or something for your job, then you find that your mind has drifted, which would result in you being unaware of the content at hand. This one may be difficult to directly address as it may go hand-in-hand with a number of the other symptoms. So, if you address other symptoms, there’s a chance that you would likely take care of a lack of concentration at the same time.
  • Thoughts of Suicide: This one is all too common, and has taken a number of people we love, along with the celebrities we looked up to. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are a number of resources that can help you out. 

It may be difficult to admit there is a problem, but admitting there is a problem is the biggest step you could take. It isn’t too late to turn this around, and suicide is never the answer. Even though if you feel that it’s so much harder to live than it is to die, do note that there are people who love you and are willing to help. 

What’s Next?

After you’ve identified the problem and you’re willing to admit that there is one, the next step is to reach out and find resources that can help you get back on the right track. Sadly, depression isn’t something you can just wish away, especially if this is something that’s following a traumatic experience since all of your thoughts will pull you back to that event. 

While depression is common, regardless of gender, it can be hard to admit that you need help. It has been drilled into our heads that we’re independent and we need to act as such. But there are simply some things you can’t manage on your own. Thus, it may be beneficial to reach out for some professional help, such as the following:

1. Primary Care

If you have a primary care physician, then this would be a good place to start. If you bring this problem to your doctor, and you elaborate on what you’re dealing with, they’re more than likely to help you out. 

Your doctor can’t help if they don’t know the exact reason for what you’re feeling, which is why admitting there is a problem is important. After telling your doctor, they may recommend seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist to further assist you.

2. Therapy

For some reason, a lot of people are scared of going to therapy–it’s like they’re scared that people will find out and judge them for seeking help. As it turns out, therapy can do a lot for one’s mental state as it may help you potentially identify the root cause of your problem. 

Also, a therapist can’t discuss your case with anyone else. So, whatever you share with them will stay with them. There are even group therapy sessions where you can meet people who are going through the same thing as you.

3. Psychiatry

While a therapist will get to the root of the problem and how it affects your emotions, a psychiatrist will look at your mental state from a chemical point of view. While drugs are not always the answer, they may prescribe you medicine, based on what you tell them, to help you out. 

Much like a therapist, anything you say to them stays between the two of you.

4. Talk To Your Friends and Family

Again, always keep in mind that other people can’t help you if they don’t know that you need help in the first place. Even if what you tell them seems menial at best, you’re still letting them in and helping them understand what it is you’re going through. 

Depression shouldn’t be treated as a joke or shoved in a box and leave it somewhere in your mind. It’s very serious and should be treated as such. If you tell your friends and family, the better prepared they are. Also, by telling loved ones, you’ll have a support system as you move through this. There’s strength in needing others.

Conclusion

More people suffer from depression than you might think. Some are just better at hiding it than others and pretend it doesn’t exist or that they don’t have a problem. If it’s left unattended, it can continue to fester and grow within your mind like a virus in a computer. 

Much like how the virus can cause damage to the computer, depression can cause extensive damage to your mental state. Also, the longer it is left untreated, the harder it is to turn it around.

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