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How do I know if I have depression? Depression signs and symptoms

According to a survey, depression is the most common mental health issue that people know about. Depression is also the most common mental health issue that people face. 

For something that is so widely known, it is not understood by most people.

No one truly understands the havoc depression causes in your life. No one is clear about depression symptoms and how to help someone suffering from it.

There are so many myths surrounding this topic, I think it’s time to blow them all away. Here is your guide to depression- what depression is, what it feels like and how depression is diagnosed.

Keep in mind that (unless you are a psychologist) you are not qualified to diagnose yourself or anyone with depression. If you feel like you or anyone is showing any of these symptoms, please contact a professional.

I can recommend a few (wink, wink) if you’d like.

What depression is

You are completely and utterly wrong. Everything that you have thought depression is before you came across this article might as well be a myth. As I said before, depression is a very misunderstood topic. 

The widely accepted definition of depression (given by WHO) is that depression is a mental disorder resulting in long-lasting and intense feelings of sadness, anger and/or worthlessness. I have said it before and we will say it again– depression is NOTHING close to your average mood swing.

It is an actual disorder that could wreak havoc on your life. Depressed people are at risk for most diseases, suicide and other mental conditions.

Think of depression as obesity. While it is not fatal by itself, it can lead to situations/ diseases which can prove to be life-threatening. Besides, depression does lead to obesity in most cases, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

But let’s unpack the definition of depression a little bit. We will not go into what the symptoms of depression are, as that is covered in the next section. However, I would like you to focus on two important elements of the definition:

  1. The duration of the feelings caused by the disorder
  2. The intensity of the feelings caused by the disorder

The sadness that depression causes is much more intense than a couple of weeks of feeling low. Emotions like anger, self-doubt and sadness are quite common in certain stages of one’s life– for example during adolescence, a family crisis, post-pregnancy or mid-life crisis. 

However, if these feelings persist for a long period of time (like months), depression is a real possibility. Short bouts of sadness every day do not count as the intensity of the sadness also count.

So to summarise, I will put it this way– if you cannot bring yourself to function like a normal person due to the crippling sadness or anger you feel every moment of the day for several months, you may have depression.

What depression feels like (depression symptoms)

While everyone experiences depression in a different way, there are some general symptoms that tell us when something is really off. 

Treat these symptoms the same way you would treat the symptoms of a physical disease– read up about the symptoms, check if you have them and then call a doctor (or in this case a psychologist).

The most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Overwhelming and intense sadness that just doesn’t go away.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, irritability and general hopelessness.
  • Withdrawing from social interaction– for example, you don’t feel like hanging out with your friends/ family anymore
  • Losing interest in activities that used to interest you or that you found enjoyable
  • Decreased efficiency and productivity due to the inability to concentrate and feeling demotivated
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns– you may sleep too much (hypersomnia) or too little (insomnia).
  • Losing your appetite or eating too much.
  • Feeling physically tired and drained even if you did nothing all day.
  • Reduced sexual arousal or desire to copulate.

Remember that while these symptoms sound general, they are just the main symptoms to look out for.

 A lot of psychological diseases have similar symptoms (quite like the flu, the cold and COVID-19). Anxiety, for example, has similar symptoms but it is a totally different disorder. 

This is why (and you are probably sick of hearing me say this) you should always consult a professional the moment you get clued in on these symptoms.

How depression is diagnosed

There is a huge difference between feeling low or sad and being depressed. People who grumble about not being invited to a party and then say that they are “depressed” are despised by the psychology community, I can tell you.

For something to qualify as a disorder and not just a fleeting feeling, there are many criteria that have to be met. These criteria are neatly written down in the DSM, which can be called the psychologist’s BIble.

In order to be diagnosed with depression, you first have to meet these DSM criteria. If you think that it looks super-complicated, you are absolutely right. They are. And that is why you need a professional psychologist. Don’t self-diagnose, kids.

There are three overarching criteria which you have to satisfy are:

  1. Depressive feelings are hampering your personal life.
  2. Depressive feelings are hampering your professional life.
  3. Depressive feelings are hampering your social life.

Of course, it is not as simple as that and there are many more boxes that need to be ticked off. But these are the main ones.

Once you go to a psychologist for a mental health check-up, they will ask you to perform certain psychometric assessments, questionnaires and tests. They then have to evaluate those assessments and test to see if you can be diagnosed with depression.

These assessments can be quite taxing for your wallet, which is why we have come up with an online version of them. The results will still be evaluated by a certified psychologist but the cost is significantly lower. You can also be officially diagnosed with various mental health issues (not just depression).

If you want to perform a quick assessment to check on your mental health, just go here.

Can depression be cured?

In a nutshell, yes depression can definitely be cured!

Depending on the magnitude of the disorder and your therapist, the duration and types of therapy would differ. For really severe cases, it will take quite a bit of time and will require a commitment to your own mental health. But as long as you keep taking steps towards better health (no matter how slow), you will see an improvement.

CBT or Cognitive Behavioural Theory has become the most common method to treat depression and has produced great results both inside and outside the lab. However, more traditional methods of prescribing antidepressants and other pills is also quite common. Electrotherapy has been banned in most countries (thankfully), so you have nothing to be worried about when you go to the therapist.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, most people will not be able to contact a psychologist. However, we offer online sessions at PsychOWLogist, so you should never hesitate to reach out to us.

Like any wound or disease, depression will continue to get worse and have more severe consequences if nothing is done about it. That’s why you should definitely contact a psychologist the minute you recognise that any symptom of depression in yourself. 

After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Now I should hope that you have a solid understanding of depression and what it entails. You would not be able to wrap your head around the sheer number of people in the world who are suffering from this disorder at this very minute.

These people need our help in their battle with depression. 

If you see anyone exhibiting any depression symptoms, please contact a professional. A PsychOWLogist is always on duty and will answer any questions you may have.

In addition, we have a free 15-minute consultation that you can book on our website. You can have a quick chat with a professional psychologist about the issues you are facing.

Most importantly, never go through something like depression alone. You can read all the blogs and articles you want to but at the end of the day, there needs to be a person to help you through this. 

You never have to be alone.

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