Being sad, frustrated, or overwhelmed is a part of being human. Everyone sometimes faces circumstances that feel hard to endure, and recognizing the feelings they bring on can be an important way to deal with them. However, depression is a very different condition, where these emotions are persistent, debilitating, and don’t seem to go away. Here are some ways you can tell the difference between a simple “case of the blues,” and more serious depression that needs treatment.
1) Your mind seems difficult to control
Depression is a brain condition that distorts your ability to perceive the world around you. It is not merely have sad, frustrated, or fearful feelings, but those feelings becoming so overwhelming that you feel unable to function. It may become difficult to make decision or concentrate, because your brain feels like it keeps forcing you to dwell on negative things in a way that feels unmanageable. You may find yourself moving or speaking slower than usual, as formally simple things become more difficult.
2) You have persistent hard feelings that don’t go away
For everyone, there are times when their mood feels high, and other times when it feels low. A disappointment brings on sadness and anger, while seeing something funny or beautiful can bring on happiness and peacefulness. With clinical depression, this diversity of emotions feels out of balance. One thought of frustration or sadness doesn’t occupy your brain for a moment and then leave, but rather creates a mental spiral, connected to other things that leave you viewing yourself negatively. These persistent thoughts may cause you to feel tearful or guilt-ridden with no clear cause, or more often than seems usual.
3) It feels harder to find pleasure in things
When feeling of grief, frustration, or low self-worth, people have coping mechanisms, or ways of dealing with the unwanted thought or feeling, responding to the need it reflects, or taking time to feel better and think about happier truths. Enjoyable activities are a very important way to find contentment in life. With depression, the sad moments seem easier to recall and dwell upon than happy ones.
Under a condition called anhedonia, the feelings from things that used to excite you, people you used to enjoy being around, or activities that felt rejuvenating feel blunted or dull. A loss of interest in things may further a sense of isolation, which can lead to further depression, creating a highly distressing cycle.
4) You have trouble sleeping, or are sleep too much
With such a busy mind trapped in cycles of frustration or despair, many people struggling with depression find it disrupts their sleep. Some people feel very fatigued and sleep for much longer than normally. Other people suffer from insomnia, and struggle with getting to or staying asleep. Both can lead to a sense of decreased energy. A full night’s sleep is a very important restorative time for your physical and mental health, and going without it can increase feelings of low-energy or helplessness, intensifying depressed feelings. An inability to sleep throughout the night can be one of the largest cues that depressed feelings are becoming something that is really interfering with your life.
5) You have aches, pains, or sickness that doesn’t go away with treatment
The brain is a part of the body, and physical health and mental health are intimately connected. Some people, when they feel stress, worry, sadness, or anger may have developed patterns of trying to ignore those emotions, rather than expressing it directly. This can create a feeling of chronic stress, that can end up being felt physically. You might feel strong headaches, cramps, or feelings of nausea that don’t go away when you try to just treat the symptom.
The good news is that depression can get better with treatment. You are not helpless. There are a wide variety of options and methods that have been proven to help lessen depression and can help you feel better and more capable of handling life. If you are struggling with debilitating depression, do not hesitate to get help today.