When you’re feeling sad, nothing else seems to be able to pull you out. You’re consumed within your own inner world. You have thoughts in your head and they demand your attention. You end up going down that rabbit hole and your thoughts become all-consuming. You get caught up in your own world and it’s hard to see beyond that. It robs you of a fulfilling life.
If this sounds familiar, chances are you’ve struggled with one or more aspects of depression. It doesn’t even stop there; other things can influence how depression affect us: Our perception of our early childhood experiences, our beliefs, how we cope with things, and how we think about our situation.
Depression is the “common cold” of emotional disorders that no one is exempt from. It’s hard for us to admit, but we all go through periods of adjustment that can cause us to feel sad, blue, down, and unhappy. Yet we tend to forget that depressed feelings can also be important signs that something is changing in our lives. We can deny and run from them, but if we take the time to look at what it means, we might be able to change our path.
Do I Have Depression?
Any one of the following can be signs of depression:
- Feeling fatigued, tired and exhausted
- Feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, angry, irritable or easily upset
- Feeling sad and down
- Lacking energy
- Having more physical pain sensations and just “not feeling good” physically
- Losing desire, and interest, to do much
- Feeling guilt and having excessive self-blame
- Having an increase in physical problems and being sick more frequently
- Being more prone to injuries
- Having headaches, or increasing headache problems
- Grinding one’s teeth, clinching one’s jaw
- Losing one’s sexual desire/interest
- Difficulty in erections/orgasms
- An increase use of pain medications (which increases depression)
- An increase in the use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Sleeping too much or having problems sleeping, and/or waking frequently
- Weight gain or a loss in weight
- An increase in marital arguments
- Problems on the job with supervisors, co-workers, missing work, etc.
- A lack of enjoyment in daily life
- Feeling “blah” and no excitement in life
- Feeling “free-floating” anxiety and tensions
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, indecisiveness or unclear thinking
- Eating less or more; gaining or losing weight
- Addictive Behaviors / Acting Out: Chemicals, alcohol use, affairs, spending money.
- Buying things in hopes it will make you feel better, and then losing interest in it, while moving on to buying even more things (self-medicating moods with things and activities)
Depression can happen even though you may not feel that anything is happening in your life to cause it. You don’t even have to feel a “severe/extreme” level of depression to be concerned that “something is out of balance in one’s life.” When we feel that we are just “a little tired,” or are “feeling our age,” a mild depression may be evident, although this is hard to identify.
We try to avoid feelings by keeping busy, rushing around, and then collapsing in exhaustion after pushing ourselves too much. Freud said that “depression (frustration) is anger held inside.” What we do know is that whenever we try to deny feelings, hold things in, it will come out in some manner – physical and/or emotional symptoms.
The longer we deny problems and feelings the worse they become. It’s important to stop and ask, “What am I frustrated about,” in order to handle it, even if we don’t see it like others do. Therapy and counseling can help us grow, change and solve depression. To heal we have to feel, and not avoiding our feelings.
Many depressions are situational, or reactions to important changes in our lives. Some depressions are biological, inherited, or of such a nature that anti-depressant medications can be important in helping one change.
Some depressions happen with physical problems, from injuries to childbirth (post-baby blues), because of changes in the body. This is normal and to be expected, but you may still need help and support.
Unresolved childhood traumas and conflicts can cause long-term unhappiness and problems in functioning.
“Snapping out of it” is not easy without psychological help. Seeking psychological therapy is a sign of strength, not weakness! Depression can happen to anyone at some point in life. It is the “common cold” of emotional life – even though we think it only happens to other people, or the “weak” ones.
There are many different types of antidepressant medications to fit each individual’s unique biological needs and differences. However, many depressions can be helped without medications with proper therapy. Research has noted that even mild levels of depression can cause significant, long-term, problems. As a result, it is critical to reach out for help even if “things are not that bad”
Depression can also be life threatening if one tries to “run and hide” rather than trying to deal with it, learn from it, and understand what it means for your life and the “new journey” now evident in your life. Know that strong people have problems, too. They also know to admit them and then find help for them. However, dysfunctional individuals won’t talk about the problem; they will deny the problem, try not to feel the problem, and of course avoid doing anything at all possible costs about the problem.