How do you know if you're depressed?
People who are depressed generally know that something is wrong, even frighteningly wrong. But sometimes they and those around them do not identify their problem as depression. Out of lack of awareness of what depression consists of or an aversion to admitting a mental or emotional illness, they see themselves as suffering from stress, fatigue, or overwork or even a physical disease.
Depression is a constellation of symptoms that varies from person to person. If you have at least five of the symptoms listed below for at least two weeks -- and they are not clearly caused by a medical disorder, drug use, or bereavement -- then you very likely have an episode of major depression:
- A depressed mood (often noticeably different from low moods previously experienced; an indescribable psychic pain or anguish).
- A pervasive and sometimes profound loss of interest in usual activities.
- (One of these first two symptoms must be included for the diagnosis.)
- Loss of appetite; significant weight loss.
- Insomnia or excessive sleep.
- Physical slow down or agitation.
- Lack of energy; fatigue.
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness that may be of delusional proportions.
- Poor concentration; indecisiveness.
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideas, plans, or attempts.
Many other symptoms can occur, such as hopelessness, a dismal view of the future, distorted judgment, decreased sexual interest, constipation, and bodily aches and pains. Depressive symptoms can occur in subtle and mild forms. It is best to recognize and begin to treat depression before it is full-blown.
Anyone who is depressed, or possibly depressed, should get a medical evaluation. Sometimes medical illnesses such as hypothyroidism can cause depression and should be ruled out.
Depression is highly treatable. Treatment can sometimes be done by primary physicians, if they have the experience and interest. If your depression is severe or not responsive to treatment, you should see a psychiatrist.
Psychological firms that provide supports for How do you know if you're depressed? . . .