What Does Depression Feel Like?
Kyle (name changed) was struggling to make it to work on time. Some days he skipped entirely, finding it impossible to get out of bed. He blamed his lack of motivation on not liking his job. Since he didn’t like his job, showing up habitually late or missing work entirely seemed normal. Isn’t that what everyone does?
At a doctor’s appointment, Kyle was screened for depression and diagnosed with moderate depression. Suddenly, everything made sense. His poor work performance wasn’t due to laziness or lack of motivation. Kyle was struggling with depression.
What does depression feel like? Can you have depression without knowing? Actually, yes. Depression can be mistaken for other issues, such as fatigue, lack of motivation, or lack of desire. While everyone experiences these emotions from time to time, depression is a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable.
How Can I Tell If I Have Depression?
There is no single symptom that confirms a diagnosis of depression. Rather, it is an accumulation of symptoms and behaviors that indicate you or someone you love is struggling with depression. Here are 10 warning signs to look out for:
10 Warning Signs of Depression
• Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
• Fatigue or lack of energy
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable
• Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
• Changes in appetite or weight, such as significant weight loss or weight gain
• Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or oversleeping
• Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
• Physical symptoms, like headaches or stomach problems, that don’t have a clear medical cause
• Irritability or restlessness
• Thoughts of death or suicide
Not everyone experiences depression in the same way. The severity and frequency of these symptoms will vary from person to person. Also, having more symptoms does not necessarily indicate a more severe case of depression. Someone with only one or two symptoms from the list above may be just as depressed as someone with more symptoms. That’s why if you suspect that you, a close friend, or loved one is dealing with depression, it’s best to seek help from a qualified mental health provider to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
How can I tell if a friend or loved one has depression?
Recognizing depression in friends or family members can be challenging, as not everyone experiences depression in the same way. And while you may be able to observe outward behavior, you cannot know a close friend or loved one’s inner thoughts unless they choose to share those thoughts with you. Being a good listener is an important key to helping a friend who is dealing with depression.
If you are worried that someone is experiencing depression, be on the lookout for behavioral cues such as the following:
Withdrawing from social activities
Depression causes people to self-isolate. If your friend is avoiding social situations that they used to enjoy, or if they are canceling plans frequently, this may be a sign of depression.
Expressing negative feelings
If your friend frequently talks about feeling sad, hopeless, or worthless, this could be an indication of depression, particularly if it is unusual and out of character for your friend.
Changes in behavior
If your friend has a significant change in their behavior or personality, such as becoming more irritable or agitated, this could be a sign your friend is struggling with depression.
Changes in sleeping or eating habits
While admittedly it may be difficult to know the sleeping habits of a friend (unless you are also roommates), if your friend is struggling to get out of bed to attend school or work, that could be a sign of depression. Also, if your friend is skipping social activities because they can’t seem to get out of bed, that is also an indicator of depression.
Lack of energy
If your friend complains of feeling tired or has a noticeable lack of energy, this could indicate depression. This could manifest as an inability to attend school, do homework, get to work on time (or at all!), or not having the energy to spend time with friends and family.
Talking about death or suicide
If your friend talks about death or suicide, even in a joking manner, this is a serious sign that they may be in danger and need professional help quickly. Do not ignore or minimize this warning sign, even if your friend claims to be joking.
While these signs are a good indicator that a friend or loved one may be struggling with depression, only a mental health provider is qualified to issue a diagnosis. If you are concerned about a friend, encouraging them — and even helping them – to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist is a great way to assist them.
Even if you recognize one or more of the symptoms of depression in yourself or a friend, it might be caused by something else. Depression can sometimes be confused with other conditions because its symptoms overlap with other mental health disorders and physical health conditions.
For example, symptoms of depression such as fatigue, low energy, and poor concentration are also symptoms of ailments such as chronic fatigue syndrome or hypothyroidism. Other symptoms of depression, such as irritability and difficulty sleeping, are also indicative of anxiety disorders and other physical and mental health conditions. That’s why it is important to see a mental health provider for a conclusive diagnosis.
When Should I See a Psychiatrist?
People often wonder if their depressive symptoms are “bad enough” to need a psychiatrist. If at any time you, a friend, or loved one is having thoughts of self-harm, you should seek care immediately from a qualified mental health professional, a primary care doctor, or emergency department at a hospital.
Otherwise, if your symptoms persist for more than two weeks and are affecting your ability to function in your daily life, you should consider seeing a psychiatrist for help. A psychiatrist can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options, including TMS – an interventional psychiatric treatment with remarkable results at alleviating depression.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that can significantly impact your quality of life and day-to-day function. If you believe that you, a friend, or loved one may be suffering from depression, contact us today to receive an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan that works.
For more information, call Brighter Day TMS today at (970) 430-5458.