We all go through times when we feel sad or down. Clinical depression, however, is more than just going through a rough patch. Fortunately, while clinical depression is a serious condition, many people do recover with treatment that may include psychotherapy, medication, and healthier lifestyle choices. The first step to recovery is detection and professional diagnosis. Learn to recognize the signs of depression. If you are concerned that you or somebody close to you suffers from depression, reach out to a trained psychologist for diagnosis and treatment.
Depression often hides behind a mask
A surprisingly large number of people who suffer from depression invest tremendous energy trying to conceal their depression. While you may be successful in hiding depression, concealment is not a strategy for making depression disappear. Concealing depression just makes it harder to get help, including getting treatment that can be very effective.
Learn to identify signs of clinical depression
If you think that you or somebody that you love may be depressed, use this checklist as a first step to decide if you need to reach out for help. Only a trained mental health professional should diagnose depression. Reach out for an evaluation if you have any doubts.
Symptoms of depression may include:
- Feeling sad and lethargic with no obvious cause. Lethargic speaking, movement, and thinking. Even small tasks can seem overwhelming.
- Everyday functioning hampered by negative thoughts.
- Sleep problems (from insomnia to sleeping too much).
- Eating problems (from loss of appetite to overeating)
- Feeling empty, hopeless, or helpless.
- Pretending to feel happy when you don’t feel happy – forced “happy face”.
- Frequent anxiety, restlessness, anger, irritability, or frustration.
- Loss of interest in once favorite hobbies or activities.
- In some cases, recurring suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death. Attempted suicide.
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering. Difficulty making decisions.
- Unexplained physical pains.
Reaching out for help can make a big difference
With early detection, diagnosis, and treatment , many people get better. But left untreated, depression can be devastating, both for the people who have it and for their families. See more about early detection, diagnosis and treatment on the NAMI page for depression.
The Mayo Clinic recommends steps that you can take to help mitigate or prevent depression. Here is an adaptation of the Mayo Clinic recommendations.
- Learn to control stress and increase your resilience.
- Boost your self-esteem.
- Build a network of family and friends, and find a psychologist, that can help you you navigate periods of depression.
- Reach out for treatment as soon as possible. Don’t wait for your depression to spiral out of control before calling for help.
- Consider ongoing treatment to help prevent a relapse.