In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed or weighed down by unexpected events or the state of the world. Many people attribute these feelings to depression, and diagnoses of depression have been on the rise, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it’s important to understand what depression really feels like and when it’s time to seek help.
Depression is often characterized as deep sadness, but it’s actually a complex condition that goes beyond just feeling sad. According to psychologist Dawn Potter, depression is different from sadness in several ways. Firstly, depression is more frequent and longer-lasting than occasional sadness. Additionally, depression is accompanied by a range of other symptoms that go beyond just feeling sad. A diagnosis of clinical depression typically requires a consistent and persistent depressed mood or loss of interest in things you enjoy, along with three or more other symptoms, for at least two weeks.
These symptoms include sleep disturbances, low energy or fatigue, excessive feelings of guilt or shame, difficulty concentrating or focusing, psychomotor agitation or slowing, changes in appetite or weight, and thoughts of suicide or death. Depression is a whole-body experience that affects your physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s like viewing the world through gray- or blue-colored glasses, where everything appears negative and you have persistent negative thoughts about yourself and your worth.
Depression can make everyday activities feel more difficult and can lead to a loss of agency in your life. It can feel like you’re stuck in a fog, unable to focus or find meaning in anything. However, solving depression is not as simple as changing your negative self-talk. It often requires therapy and support to learn new coping mechanisms and manage symptoms.
The severity of symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people may experience depression for shorter periods of time, such as with seasonal depression. Others may experience symptoms for prolonged extended periods or have chronic depression. In some cases, depression can also occur alongside other mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders or psychosis.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare provider. If you’re checking at least five of the symptoms mentioned earlier or experiencing any thoughts of suicide, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical assistance. Even if you’re experiencing a few symptoms or have concerns about your mental health, it’s beneficial to talk to a healthcare provider to rule out other health problems and explore treatment options.
There are resources available for individuals seeking help for depression. Online resources and helplines can provide information and connect you with therapists or mental health professionals. Remember, it’s essential not to self-diagnose but to reach out to someone if you recognize any of these feelings within yourself.
In conclusion, depression is more than just deep sadness. It’s a multi-faceted condition that affects every aspect of your life. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking help can make a significant difference in managing depression and improving your overall well-being.