From mentalhealthhotline.org (article republished with permission)
Bad days happen to everyone. It’s completely normal to feel awful sometimes. Life can be rough, and people are emotional creatures. However, if feelings of sadness or loneliness or disconnection begin to overwhelm you, affecting your life and lasting long periods of time, you may be suffering from depression. If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance regarding depression, please call the National Mental Health Hotline at 1-866-903-3787 right now. We’re standing by.
If feelings of depression are overwhelming you, seek immediate help. Start with your primary doctor. Although no official test exists for depression, your doctor is the best place to start. They’ll assess you (or at least refer you to someone who can) and help manage your symptoms.
Left untreated, depression only tends to get worse. Severe depression can lead to suicidal tendency and even action. In fact, around 1 out of every 10 people with depression attempt suicide, and half of those with depression never receive care. So please, seek help immediately if you or a loved one is experiencing depression.
Symptoms of Depression
Everyone is different, and therefore every case of depression is a little different. However, chances are someone with depression is experiencing at least some of the following symptoms. For the sake of parity, they are listed alphabetically. They include but are not limited to:
- Aches, cramps, headaches or body pains
- Digestive issues (physically untreatable)
- Fatigue and overall tiredness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, disconnection and/or helplessness
- Insomnia, trouble sleeping and/or restlessness
- Irritability and/or aggression
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Pessimistic attitude (otherwise not present)
- Sad and empty feelings
- Suicidal tendencies and/or actions
- Trouble concentrating or staying engaged
- Loss of interest in hobbies, social life, and/or sex
As we said, there is no official test for depression. Generally speaking, medical practitioners can assess patients and determine whether or not depression exists. This will usually begin with a through physical exam and lifestyle history assessment. Some things your doctor will likely want to know include:
- When your feelings of depression started
- How long your feelings of depression have lasted
- If you’ve experienced these feelings before
- How severe your feelings of depression are
- If depression or any other mental illnesses run in your family
- Your history with substance abuse and/or other mental illnesses
If you feel depressed and your doctor determines that you do not need to be treated for depression, it’s very likely your doctor will follow with some advice as to how to get better. Follow this advice if this is your situation. If it doesn’t improve your mental health, make another appointment.
If your doctor rules out any physical cause for your feeling and diagnoses you with depression, one of two things will happen next. Either you will be placed on a treatment plan or you will be referred to a mental health professional, who will in turn place you on a treatment plan. This will most likely include a combination of medicine and psychotherapy.
Be patient if this happens to you. Treatment effects take time, and some medicines take up to a month to reach their full effect. You may even have to experiment with different plans. That’s OK. Your medical professionals are there to guide you along the way. And as always, feel free to call the Mental Health Hotline in times of need.
Depression and Suicide
Those with depression are at high risk of suicide. Warning signs of a suicidal person include but are not limited to:
- Consistent talk about death or dying
- Deep sadness that only worsens
- Engaging in risky behavior not normal to the person
- Extreme mood swings
- Making comments about wishing for death or not wanting to be here
- Plans of suicide
- Visiting close friends and loved ones at an abnormal rate
If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, the time to reach out for help is right now. Saving a life could be a matter of a phone call. Seek help immediately if suicidal symptoms are present.
A Final Word
More extreme methods of depression treatment exist, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). However, it is at the discretion of your medical professionals as to whether or not these therapies are necessary.
If you’re unsure as to how bad depression needs to be in order to seek help, then we recommend you seek help. Even wondering whether or not you need help is a sign of needing it. Yes it’s possible to experience signs of depression and not be diagnosed. It’s also possible to have such good defense mechanisms that you do have depression and talk yourself out of it.
Regardless of where you fall on the scale, if you think you’re depressed, seek help. After all, your medical professionals and hotlines like the Mental Health Hotline exist to serve you. Seek help immediately if you think you or a loved one suffers from depression. It can’t hurt.
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