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Depression Symptoms - Am I Depressed?
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005E-mail this page Printer-friendly page
Everyone feels sad sometimes. But not everyone has a change in their weight, sleep patterns, loss of interest in friends and hobbies, excessive feelings of guilt, low energy or loss of your “get-up-and-go”, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, and wishing that you were no longer alive. Symptoms mentioned previously are beyond feeling sad and mean that you may have a clinical depression or Depressive Disorder.What should I do?
The next step depends on how bad you are feeling. If you know the trigger that made you upset, this may be a reaction to that stress. If you aren’t mostly back to normal within two weeks, then this is something more that you should get evaluated. You can make an appointment to talk with your primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, pastor, or other type of counselor. There are a variety of treatments available, and most work pretty well, so really it is just your preference. If you tend to do well with medications, there are many medications that work well. If you prefer therapy, there are many different types that may work. If you feel this is effecting your relationship, couples therapy has been found to help an individual’s depressison, so you may want to consider this option. If you find that you are often saying negative things to yourself, like “Loser” or “Why don’t you just do it right?” you may find that cognitive behavioral therapy can help you retrain yourself to stop this behavior and adapt some new patterns. Group therapy, light therapy and exercise work for some people.What should I know?
There are lots of medical illnesses that can cause the same symptoms as depression, so a general check-up with your doctor is a good idea. Also a psychiatrist can screen for these and know which ones are most likely. Review with your doctor any medications that you are taking, since some medications can cause depression as well. Do you use any illegal drugs or use a lot of alcohol? These can also contribute to depressive symptoms, so review these with your doctor to see if they may be causing or contributing to the problem.
Have you ever been “manic”? “Manic” means feeling “on top of the world”, like “superman”, acting impulsively, not needing much sleep (2-3 hours per night) while still having lots of energy, thinking you can do anything, super talkative, ran up enormous long distance bills and spent a lot of money, all the while others noticing that you are acting differently than you normally do. Make sure and discuss any of these problems with your doctor before you take any medication for depression. The medication used to treat people who have been manic is different than that needed to treat those who have never been manic! So let your doctor know if you have ever had any of these “manic” symptoms!
If you have immediate thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, CALL 911 or GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM! Do not use substances like drugs or alcohol that may lower your inhibitions. They will increase the chance that you will actually try to harm yourself. If you don’t have thoughts of harming yourself but you have some thoughts of no longer wanting to live, then seek help as soon as you can. You should consider going to the emergency room if needed. Be aware that these thoughts tend to be warning signs that you may come up with a plan and harm yourself in the future. Now is the time to take steps to ensure your future safety in case you get worse before you get better. Seek professional help from a psychiatrist. Also talk to a friend and give them any weapons that you may have so that you can’t hurt yourself with them. Don’t keep large amounts of medication around so you won’t impulsively overdose on pills.
Most people who get help find that their clinical depression goes away and they feel like themselves again. Often they will have similar symptoms in the future, so stay aware of your early warning signs that you might be getting depressed again (i.e. poor sleep, change in appetite). These warning signs are different for everyone, so try to put some thought into what yours are, so you can watch out for them. Also be aware of your “triggers”, the events in your life that may set you up for getting depressed. These vary as well, but can be things like stresses at work, medical illnesses, relationship problems, and problems at work or school.