Sometimes we find ourselves in a funk: feeling sad, irritable, lonely or “down.” And sometimes this makes sense to us. We might be going through a loss such as a pet dying or a divorce, or job loss. Maybe it’s a life transition such as moving or one chapter of life ending and another beginning. Maybe we had an argument with a lover or a friend, an illness, or financial stress. You may be thinking of your own experiences and reflecting on how you felt at the time, how long your feelings lasted, and how you managed your feelings. What about times when you felt sad or “down” for longer than a few weeks? As you think about your experience did you believe you were depressed or just had the case of the blues? How do we know when we’re experiencing depression?
So what is depression? Depression is a mood disorder that impacts many people. It’s characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness; you may experience appetite and sleep changes, and may have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide. You may isolate and have difficulty reaching out for support. Depression symptoms last for two weeks or longer and they interfere with your daily life and relationships. Major life events and stressors can trigger depression, but we can also feel depressed for no particular reason.
Depression is treatable and it’s important to seek out help if you’re experiencing symptoms. The first step is having awareness. Here are some questions to consider: Do you find yourself tearful often or all of the time? Do you believe that nothing will get better no matter what you do? Do you have thoughts about hurting yourself or ending it all? Do you find yourself unable to make decisions? Are you struggling at work, school, or just to get through the day? Have your loved ones told you they’re worried about you? Have you lost interest in doing things you once loved to do?
If you’re struggling with symptoms like these, seek help. Therapy is an effective way to explore your feelings and thoughts and to identify strategies to help you manage your depression. You are not alone; depression is something many people experience and it doesn’t need to run your life.
By: Kate Kelsey, MA, LMFT
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