Most everyone experiences low mood and bad days. When you’re having low mood, you might wonder if you are, in fact, depressed. You may try to treat yourself, practice self-care, spend time with loved ones, exercise, or do something that usually puts you in a better mood. Sometimes, however, self-care alone won’t work. In this case, it may be a sign to look for a depressive disorder and seek help. Luckily, depression is a diagnosable and treatable condition. There are symptoms you can look for and ways to improve it.
Is it depression or not?
Reach out to your doctor or a medically trusted resource for support if you think you may have depression. Don’t delay.
A low mood is often a temporary state, brought about by an event, such as the death of a loved one or a fight with a family member or friend. It’s common and many of us are experiencing times of low mood as we face our current pandemic.
These mood responses are normal. Emotions are part of the human condition.
If, however, you find yourself struggling with a low mood for more than two weeks, you may be experiencing a depressive disorder. The most common depressive disorder is major depressive disorder. Major Depressive Disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences five or more specific symptoms of low mood for more than two weeks, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Below are examples of emotional and behavioral changes someone with depression may experience.
- Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
- Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
- Feelings of hopelessness or emptiness
- Irritable or annoyed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Loss of interest in engaging with family and friends
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
- Ongoing sense that life is grim and bleak
- Thoughts of death, dying or suicide
Additionally, while depression is a mood disorder, it affects your overall health and well-being.
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite
- Different use of alcohol or drugs
- Agitation or restlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained body aches and headaches
- Social isolation
- Poor performance at work or school
- Difficulty or lack of motivation to attend school or work
- Less attention to personal hygiene and/or appearance
- Angry outbursts, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting-out behaviors
- Suicidal plans or actions
Different types of depression exist, with symptoms ranging from minor to severe. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, reach out for help. Don’t delay. Seeking support early can prevent symptoms from worsening. In the meantime, you can familiarize yourself with the characteristics of depression. Or take a self-diagnostic test.
Remember that you are not alone and you don’t have to go through the process of getting help alone either.