Am I depressed?
There is a big difference between feeling sad for a few days and being clinically depressed. Likewise, you should also know that there is an important distinction between clinical depression, which is also known as Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, and situational depression. Take an honest assessment of your mood and the symptoms you have been experiencing over the last two month. Ask yourself if you can honestly agree if any of the following statements are true:
- Have you had little or no interest or pleasure in doing things you once used to enjoy?
- Have you been feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
- Have you had trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?
- Have you been constantly feeling tired, or have very little energy?
- Have you been experiencing poor appetite, or, on the other hand, you may have been overeating?
- Have you been feeling bad about yourself — experiencing feelings of failure that you may have let yourself or your family down?
- Have you had trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television?
- Have you been moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed? Or so fidgety or restless that you have been moving a lot more than usual?
- Have you had thoughts that you would be better off dead or thoughts of hurting yourself in some way?
The answers to these questions and the frequency with which you have been experiencing them over the last 2 weeks can help to determine whether you have a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). This is a serious, but typically very treatable mood disorder, which is usually related to imbalances in neurotransmitter production. There is a large body of research suggesting that MDD has a genetic basis. Doctors often call this type of depression endogenous depression, meaning it comes from within your body, as opposed to upsetting circumstances in your life that could come from outside influences. This particular type of depression is often called situational depression. Technically known as an “adjustment disorder.” This is when people cannot eventually adjust to, and cope with, life stressors. In such a situation, patients may experience persistent symptoms of stress long after a stressful event has occurred.
These symptoms are not only mentally unhealthy but translate into physically unhealthy consequences, such as inflammation, which, in turn, can develop into atherosclerosis and CV disease. We encourage you to try to seek social interaction. Talk with friends and family members. You may also consider speaking with a licensed therapist. We recommend journaling your feelings or participating in music therapy which is also helpful. Light exercise such as going on walks throughout the day is beneficial. Take up a new hobby! We also suggest you become more social--and that doesn’t mean just posting on social media. This means getting out of the house, socializing, and doing things with your friends. You may even make new friends! If you still feel you are losing grip over control of your emotions while implementing the tools above, you may consider contacting a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. These are highly trained professionals who can give you targeted help with your specific issues.
Everyday is a new day to start on a positive note. Know that you are not alone and there are many resources available to help you overcome your depression. If you need assistance right now, please call the SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service --in English and Spanish -- for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information