Depression affects millions of people every year in the UK, and can range from mild to very severe – but how do you know you are experiencing depression? Depression can appear at times much like being in a sad or low mood, however it differs from general sadness in a number of important ways. It is often difficult to determine exactly why an individual may experience depression, and it can happen to anyone at any time, however there may also be obvious events which trigger depressive episodes such as the death of a loved one, unemployment, or injury. However, depression can also appear to come out of nowhere and no one is immune, no matter how perfect their life may seem from the outside. So, how can you tell if what you are experiencing is depression? And where do you go from there?
The DSM-V criteria for depression goes into a lot of detail about the specific criteria for depression. However, symptoms can display themselves very differently in different individuals, therefore we suggest seeking guidance or advice if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms either a) consistently for 2 or more weeks, or b) over and over again for a few days at a time.
1. Loss of Interest/Pleasure
Have you lost interest in the things you normally enjoy? Are you experiencing a notable lack of pleasure in your daily life? Do you find tasks that you used to relish boring or tedious? If you answered yes to any of these you may be experiencing depression, especially if this lasts over several days or weeks. If your motivation is significantly reduced or you find yourself dropping out of plans you would usually look forward to this may be a sign that you are depressed. All of us experience a lack of motivation sometimes, and our interests can change over time, however there is a difference between this and losing interest in everything. Don’t ignore the signs – speak up about how you are feeling and consider that this may be a sign of depression.
2. Unexplained Lack of Energy
Although it is one of the most common symptoms of depression, many people tend to ignore or dismiss feelings of tiredness or lack of energy as unimportant. In reality, the opposite is true. If you are feeling continually tired despite getting enough sleep, or get home and feel exhausted after doing very little, this could be one of the first signs that you are experiencing depression. In fact, many of those who go to their doctors complaining of fatigue do not realise they are depressed, but after careful consideration end up receiving a diagnosis for depression. If this sounds like you, consider why you may be feeling this way.
3. Continuous Low Mood (Feeling Isolated, Lonely or Lost)
The most obvious sign of depression is a low mood, however it is also very often overlooked due to a lack of understanding. If you are feeling down every day, or almost every day, for a long period of time ask yourself; when was the last time I felt truly happy? This is an important thing to consider for everyone but if you realise that you can’t remember the last time this could be a huge warning sign. Depression may feel just like a low mood, but is often described as “un-escapable” and tends to be continuous with a general absence of happiness. Low mood can range from feeling down, isolated or lonely to more extreme feelings such as suicidal thoughts; however all may be considered symptoms of depression.
4. Problems Sleeping
When experiencing depression, many individuals note that they find it difficult to fall asleep or maintain sleep. Some common symptoms of depression are broken sleep patterns, insomnia, disruptive thoughts and sleep disturbances (e.g. night terrors). Combined with a lack of energy this may also indicate a purely sleep related disorder, however there is a huge amount of crossover with depression and sleep disorders are quite commonly thought to be caused by psychological distress.
5. Feelings of Worthlessness and/or Inappropriate Guilt
Feeling guilty when you have done something wrong is completely normal and healthy, however often when individuals are depressed they can become overly critical of themselves, assigning blame where it is not necessary. If you are consistently feeling worthless or guilty, consider if this is appropriate to the situation. If it were someone else would you treat them so harshly? If the answer is no, then perhaps you are experiencing a symptom of depression.
If you feel that any of the above may apply to you, here’s what you can do.
Talk to someone; be it your friend, neighbour, sister, brother, GP or one of the Dr Julian therapists. Online therapy and using video link therapy has been shown to be equally as effective at dealing with depression as in room therapy.Do some research; inform yourself on depression – the signs and symptoms and what to do if you’re feeling depressed.
Don’t give up! Remember, depression is very common and most people recover with the appropriate help – you’re not alone.www.dr-julian.com