Being sad or "feeling down" is a normal reaction to difficulties in life, but depression is something more. The National Institute of Mental Health defines major depression is defined as severe negative emotions and behaviors that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. Sometimes people describe this as “living in a black hole.” Normal, everyday tasks can become a chore. Spending time with friends seems like a commitment. You may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic.
If you are experiencing these thoughts or feelings, you may be wondering if it's time to get help for depression. Below is a handful of signs that you should seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment.
If you’re suffering with depression, you might feel hopeless or helpless. You might feel tired all the time or lose interest in spending time with friends. Hobbies you once participated in no longer seem entertaining to you. You might find it hard to concentrate on easy tasks and have a difficult time controlling negative thoughts, no matter how hard you try. Appetite changes or weight changes are also common symptoms of depression if the change is more than 5% of your body weight in a month.
If you’ve been having the feelings described above for two weeks or more, it is time to seek help. Many people wait longer to get help, only to have their symptoms worsen and go on for months. By then, the symptoms are much stronger and recovery time becomes extended. If the feelings last for most of the day, every day for two weeks or more, it is be beneficial to seek help for depression.
If you feel like depression is affecting work or personal relationships, you should consider getting help for depression. This sign could take the form of it being difficult to complete tasks that were once easy for you to perform. Now the tasks may seem impossible. Calling in sick or arriving late to work due to depression is a telltale sign that you should speak with a mental healthcare professional. Work may seem unbearable or certain relationships may feel like a chore.
Physical Health Problems
Sometimes depression can manifest itself as physical symptoms that you can clearly see. If you experience drastic body weight changes or difficulty sleeping, it’s time to seek assistance. These symptoms, in addition to stress, weaken your immune system and can make you sick. You may also get sick more frequently if these symptoms persist for a long period of time. Body aches or headaches can also occur as a result of depression.
Many people who suffer from depression also suffer from various addictions. A clear warning sign is when you turn to drugs, alcohol, or other destructive behaviors in an attempt to feel better. Ignoring the underlying issue of depression could fuel an addiction and exacerbate the negative feelings you had before. If you notice this pattern of behavior, it’s time to seek help for depression.
Concerned Loved Ones
If you notice an increase of people around you worrying about you or your behavior, it may be time to seek help. These people have your best interests in mind, love you, and will be happy to help you on your road to recovery. It’s important not to feel ashamed for these feelings. If you notice an increase in people worrying about you, then it might be time to speak to them or a professional about the way you’ve been feeling.
Self-Harm or Violence
Finally, one of the biggest signs that you should seek help is if you’ve felt like harming yourself or someone else. These thoughts may be difficult to overcome and can become worse if not treated, possibly even leading to contemplation of suicide. Some warning signs of suicide are acting recklessly, an unusual preoccupation with death or dying, calling or visiting people to say goodbye, and making statements about not existing. If you are exhibiting any of these behaviors, it’s time to seek professional help for depression immediately.