Understand the Symptoms
Recognizing the symptoms of depression is an important first step towards understanding your mental health and getting the treatment you need. In order for a diagnosis of depression to be made, an individual must be displaying a variety of signs and symptoms. These can range from changes in sleep patterns to feelings of hopelessness and guilt.
Becoming familiar with the various symptoms associated with depression can help you determine if you or someone you know may be dealing with the condition.
Some of the common symptoms of depression include:
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Loss of interest in activities
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Common physical symptoms
Common physical symptoms experienced during times of stress can include headaches, upset stomach, digestive issues, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and an increased heart rate. Stress can cause changes to your diet and sleep habits that can have a negative effect on your overall health. It is important to recognize physical symptoms as they are often first signs of stress.
- Headaches: Headaches can range from feeling mildly annoying to significantly painful. Causes of these headaches vary greatly; they may be caused by modifications in eating or sleeping patterns or stressors occurring within one’s environment.
- Upset stomach: Stress-induced stomach issues range from mild feelings such as queasiness and unease to serious symptoms such as vomiting and persistent diarrhea. These symptoms sometimes accompany other physical manifestations of increased stress levels such as headaches or dizziness.
- Digestive Issues: Stress has been known to cause indigestion and acid reflux in some people. For people that already suffer from these issues or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), an increase in their levels of stress may worsen existing digestive complaints.
- Chest Pain: Chest pain related primarily to the heart but also potentially caused by the manipulation at work of both the upper respiratory system and muscles which support the rib cage is common when experiencing highly stressful events or chronic stress over time. Shortness of breath might also accompany this symptom when related specifically to the heart or any more serious medical condition requiring immediate medical attention if experienced at a more extreme level than normal for you.
- Difficulty Breathing: Before delving into potential medical conditions which could cause difficulty breathing experienced during times of increased tension it’s wise to note that shallow breathing due to contracted muscles surrounding your ribcage is normal under pressure and seeking professional medical advice if needed should not be something one feels overwhelmed by doing.
- Increased Heart Rate: This physical symptom has been found more often among those who experience long periods perpetual anxiety or extremely stressful events throughout their life but can also apply on smaller spatial scales such as feeling panic attacks upon presentation at work or dreading entering certain places/situations where you know apprehension has grown for you overtime without treatment being sought out for it beforehand triggering increased heartbeat sensations.
Common emotional symptoms
Depression can affect how you feel, think and behave and make it difficult to cope with everyday life. Everyone experiences depression differently but common emotional symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of sadness that don’t go away
- Having a negative outlook on life and yourself
- Feeling guilty or worthless for no reason
- Having low self esteem or difficulty making decisions
- Feeling hopeless or like nothing will ever change for the better
- Crying frequently or feeling tearful
- Lacking motivation, not enjoying activities that were once pleasurable
- Irritability, getting frustrated easily with other people or over small things
- Not wanting to be around other people and feeling lonely often
Physical symptoms are also common in cases of depression. These may include changes in appetite, sleep problems (such as sleeping too much or not being able to sleep), fatigue, problems concentrating and difficulty making decisions. It is important to reach out for help if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Common behavioral symptoms
There are many common behavioral symptoms that can be used to determine if someone might be suffering from depression. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Displaying a lack of energy and interest in things
- Displaying loss of concentration or focus
- Avoiding certain activities that they once enjoyed
- Feeling unable to take pleasure in activities they used to find rewarding
- Becoming more irritable and getting frustrated easily
- Unable to cope as well with difficulties
- Changes in sleeping patterns such as difficulty falling and staying asleep
- Changes in eating habits such as excessive snacking or compulsively eating unhealthy food for comfort
The major signs of depression tend to vary from person to person, so it’s important for individuals going through depression to reach out for help so that the underlying causes may be treated effectively. It is also important for family members, friends, and colleagues to understand these behaviors associated with depression so that they can provide better support and guide people to get appropriate help if needed.
Talk to a Professional
Talking to a mental health professional is probably the best way to check if you have depression. A Mental Health Professional can help you diagnose and understand your feelings and provide you with the appropriate treatment for your depression. They can help you recognize the symptoms and gauge how intense they are. This step is important in order to determine what type of depression you have and whether or not you need to seek additional help.
Find a therapist
Finding the right therapist for your needs is an important step to successfully tackling the issues you are facing. Ask yourself what unique qualities, experience and qualifications you would like for your therapist to have, and research mental health professionals who match those criteria.
Many people recommend getting a personal referral from someone you trust, such as a doctor or close family member. You can also look into your city or state’s psychology/psychiatry clinic, as well as local counseling centers that may offer reduced-fee services from trained therapists. Check with your insurance provider to find out which providers they’ll cover—some may determine whether they will only cover specific therapies or practitioners.
Is there a certain type of therapeutic approach that resonates with you? Think about the types of approaches that suit your needs best. Common approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), person-centered therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and more. Look into any formal certifications or experience each provider has in the techniques you’re interested in so you know they are qualified to address your concerns in that particular way.
Once you select an appropriate mental health professional, it’s important to set up an initial consultation with them before deciding if he or she is the best fit for working on any challenges you face. Ask questions about their qualifications, therapeutic approach and open communication style during this appointment so you can make an informed decision about continuing treatment with this practitioner.
Finally remember; choosing a therapist should be an individualized decision based on what will be most beneficial for you!
Take an online screening test
Before making any decisions about treatment, it is best to have a professional evaluate if you or a loved one may have a mental illness. One way to get started is to take an online screening test – such as the Mental Health America Wellness Exam – which helps assess symptoms and provides personalized mental health info and step-by-step explanations. This can give you an idea of the symptoms and potential treatments that might be necessary, or you can take the results of your test directly to a professional for further evaluation.
Other options that may be helpful include:
- Checking in with your primary care physician.
- Attending support group meetings.
- Contacting a mental health hotline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
- Connecting with local organizations such as community health centers, hospitals or support groups.
It’s important to talk to someone who can accurately diagnose any mental illness and provide appropriate treatment and support. The key is to find someone experienced in treating these conditions who will develop an effective plan of action for recovery.
Speak with a doctor
For issues regarding your physical health, speaking with a doctor may be the best course of action. Doctors can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to help you achieve better health, as well as answer any questions you have.
It’s important to keep in mind that medical advice should come from a medical professional, so it is advised that if you have any medical concerns, such as symptoms of illness, injury or disease, then you should speak with a doctor. Asking your family members or friends isn’t always the best way to get an answer because they may not have the necessary training and expertise to give an accurate response. A doctor is experienced in diagnosing illnesses and determining the necessary steps for treating them. They can also provide important guidance for overall wellness – for instance suggesting lifestyle changes – so it’s important to consult one before making any major decisions regarding your physical health.
It is important to assess your mental health and determine if you may be experiencing depression. Taking a self-assessment is the first step in understanding your mental health. It is an important part of understanding if you have depression, or are on the onset of depression.
Let us explore the self-assessment process step by step:
Identify your thoughts and feelings
Before undertaking a self-assessment, it is important to take a moment to step back and identify your thoughts and feelings. This can be done through reflective practice or meditation, drawing or writing in a journal, or taking time to think about what is going on around you and within yourself.
When identifying your thoughts and feelings, it is helpful to write them down or keep an ongoing log. This can help you stay organized when you begin the self-assessment process, and make it easier for you to reflect on what thoughts may have been influencing your behaviour. Additionally, writing down your thoughts and feelings can lead to greater self-understanding by providing an opportunity for deeper examination into the source of the thoughts or feelings.
Generally speaking, it is important to consider three areas when assessing your thoughts –
- beliefs about yourself (often referred to as “self-talk”),
- assumptions about other people (which may be based on past experiences) and
- expectations of yourself and others. Such expectations might be both conscious (e.g., wanting others’ approval) or unconscious (e.g., believing that there is only one right way).
Examining these areas will help you gain insight into underlying causes of stress or anxiety, clarify values that guide behavior choices, inspire positive thinking patterns, discover ways of thinking which do not support wellbeing needs and explore how they are rooted in life experiences.
Track your moods
It can be helpful to regularly track your moods, thoughts and feelings to gain insight into what influences your emotions. Understanding one’s self better can assist in making more mindful decisions and developing healthier coping skills. It may also offer greater clarity around situations that require management.
There are several ways to do this including:
- writing a journal entry outlining thoughts/feelings experienced during the day
- completing a self-assessment checklist that identifies general moods for each day of the week
- keeping a record of experiences on an app or website (depending on your preference).
When completing any of these activities it is important to pay attention to both negative and positive feelings as well as any physical sensations you may experience. Doing so will enable you to note patterns over time and make better decisions accordingly. Such activities have been found to reduce allergic reactions, improve overall wellbeing and promote relaxation.
For people looking for a way track their feelings, such methods may be ideal. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty managing emotions it is always recommended seeking professional help or joining support groups where topics related to mental health can be discussed without judgement.
Consider lifestyle changes
In order to assess yourself holistically, it is important to take into account not only your current physical and mental health status but also how those may be affected by the lifestyle choices you make. Consider the following areas of your life that may have an impact on your well-being:
- Diet: Are you eating nutritious food in the right amounts? Are certain foods negatively affecting your health in any way?
- Exercise: How active are you on a daily basis? Do you get enough physical activity to maintain an optimal level of fitness?
- Sleep: What is your typical sleep pattern? Do you have any difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep through the night? Are naps helping or hurting your ability to function during daytime hours?
- Stress Management: How do you typically handle stress and difficult situations in life? Do you practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, that can help reduce anxiety and foster emotional wellness?
- Social Connections: Are there supportive people in your life who can help with challenges and encourage positive behavior change? Have you connected with any groups or organizations that align with your values or goals for living a healthier lifestyle?
By taking inventory of each of these areas, it will become easier to identify changes – both small and large – that can be implemented in order to foster greater self-care and achieve overall wellbeing.
Do you think you may be suffering from depression? While it is important to seek the advice of a healthcare professional, there are a few additional resources you can use in order to check if you have depression. These resources range from online and self-administered assessments to comprehensive mental health questionnaires.
In this section, we’ll explore some of these additional resources you can use to check if you have depression:
Seek help from friends and family
Your coffee-loving friends and family can often help you find the right roast for you. If you are looking for something with a full flavor, ask someone who drinks dark roasts. If you’re trying to avoid bitterness, ask someone who favors light or medium roasts. Ask if they have tried any of the specialty coffees from local roasters or coffee shops, as this is a great way to expand your palate when looking for something new. Additionally, your friends and family may be able to recommend their favorite coffee subscription services or offer tips on brewing methods if you like to make your own coffee at home.
If there’s no one in your inner circle with enough java know-how to help out, there are plenty of online resources available. Forums like Reddit are filled with posts about different coffee-related topics – from beans to grinders and brewers – and experienced tasters can give you an inside view of which brands offer the best blend depending on flavor preferences. YouTube also has an abundance of videos about every aspect of making and savoring coffee, perfect for learning more about specific equipment and techniques.
Look for support groups
Support groups are a great way to get social support, advice, and emotional validation. It’s important to recognize that you are not alone, and there are other people dealing with similar issues. You can use in-person counseling or look for online support groups – many of which have specialized topics such as anxiety, depression, self-love, coping skills, and more.
When joining an online support group it’s important to check their leadership team and make sure there is verifiable credentials and a suitable code of conduct for members. Similarly for in-person support groups, it’s crucial to find one with ethics guidelines that is closely moderated and ensure the safety of the entire group. Don’t go into any meeting without knowing what to expect!
It’s also important to remember that while these support systems do not take the place of professional treatment they can help provide a safe environment surrounded by friends who understand what you may be going through. Talk with your mental health provider if you feel like an in-person or online group could be beneficial for you.
Utilize online resources
There are many online resources available to help in assessing whether you may have depression. It is important to recognize that the results of these assessments can only offer an indication of your level of depression, and do not provide a diagnostic opinion. Consulting with a qualified mental health professional will be necessary before making any decisions regarding treatment.
The American Psychiatric Association provides an online tool to assess a person’s symptoms, called the PHQ-9 questionnaire. This assessment evaluates nine items related to symptoms commonly experienced with depression and provides immediate feedback about your scores and potential diagnosis based on your answers.
Other online resources include:
- Mental Health America’s 10 Questions for Managing Sadness or Anxiety
- Out of the Blue Depression Screening Test from the University of Michigan
- Clinical Interview Software from NIMH (National Institute for Mental Health)
In addition, there are many helpful smartphone apps available that can be used as tools to monitor moods, behaviors and thoughts related to depression, such as:
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s free “MindShift Solution Manager” for tracking depressive symptoms over time with graphs
- MoodTools which offers mood monitoring activities
- Bipolar Disorder Coach which is specifically tailored for those with bipolar disorder.
Reaching out for support is essential while navigating through challenging times and these resources may help provide more options outside of traditional therapy settings.