Depression often sneaks up on people, which is why you might not realize that you are dealing with a mental health condition until it begins to affect your life. You might be at greater risk of developing depression if you’ve struggled with it in the past or have other mental health issues such as anxiety.
Although it might be hard to accept that you have depression, it is helpful to know that there are treatments available that can improve your mental health. As you work through this checklist, think about the past two weeks, and be honest about how you are feeling.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of whether or not you need to reach out for help.
It is normal to go through a grieving process after you lose a person or something that you care about deeply. In most cases, general sadness after a loss comes and goes, but you should feel yourself feeling a little better each day. Feeling extreme sadness for longer than a couple of weeks is a sign that you are having trouble moving forward with your life. It should also be noted that a loss could include things such as losing your job or ending a close relationship. Major life changes can sometimes bring on depression.
Postpartum depression can occur at any point during the first year after you give birth. This form of mental health condition is linked to fluctuating hormones and changes in your lifestyle. Being sleep-deprived or worried about your ability to be a good parent are also signs that you could be dealing with this issue. New moms may lose interest in caring for their baby or feel like they are going through the motions. You might also feel a sense of guilt about your feelings. This is a temporary form of depression that responds well to treatment.
In some cases, you might not feel sad. Instead, you might experience a general feeling of apathy. Spend some time thinking about things that you enjoy, and ask yourself if you are still doing any of them. Skipping your favorite hobbies to watch television or do other things to check out could be a sign that you are no longer feeling like yourself.
Sleep problems can take several different forms. Some people find that they have trouble falling asleep. Finding yourself ruminating constantly over what happened during the day or stressing about what could happen is a sign that you are dealing with anxiety or depression. You might also find that you wake up too early and have trouble getting back to sleep. Feeling like you just want to sleep all day is another sign that you are having mental health issues.
Fatigue can feel different from general sleepiness. The fatigue that comes with depression often feels overwhelming, and some people describe it as a heavy weight. You might feel this way all of the time, or you could find that your energy goes away faster than normal. Fatigue that doesn’t have an obvious cause and that lasts for more than a few days should be checked out. If nothing is physically wrong, then it could be due to your mental health.
Muscle and joint pain without any other obvious cause can be related to your mental health. You might also have headaches or pain along your jawline due to tension in your facial muscles. Aches and pains can also contribute to depression, even when you have a known cause. People who deal with chronic pain are at a higher risk for developing mental health disorders.
Major changes in your appetite are another cause for concern. Most people occasionally lose their appetite or feel hungrier than normal, but this shouldn’t happen for days at a time. Whether you are skipping meals or binge eating, your body might be sending physical signs of mental distress. You might also notice that you’ve had changes in your weight. Moving up or down on the scale is a clear sign that you are having changes in your appetite.
People with good mental health might feel sad, but they still have a sense of hope for when things will get better. Once you lose that sense of hope, you have a reason to worry. Hopelessness tends to occur when you are having trouble coping with the symptoms that you are experiencing. Treating your depression can help you start thinking positive thoughts about the future again.
Foggy thinking and difficulty with making decisions are hallmark signs of feeling depressed. Your mind may slow down, or you may find that you constantly have a steady stream of thoughts running through your head. An inability to stay focused when you normally function well with mental tasks is concerning.
Depressed people sometimes describe their symptoms as feeling like they are trying to walk through heavy fog or mud. You might notice that it takes more effort to move around than it used to, or other people might ask why you are talking differently.
Take account of your self-talk over the past several weeks. Do you find that you tend to think negatively about yourself? Or, are you beating yourself up for not getting enough things done? These could be signs of low self-esteem, or they might be caused by poor mental health. As a general rule, you should feel fairly accomplished at the end of each day.
Your symptoms might leave you feeling like you are not doing enough for the people in your life. This is common with postpartum depression when you feel like you should feel more of a sense of affection for your baby. Other forms of depression can also cause you to feel like you are letting other people down. This is especially true if you are dealing with mood swings that cause you to lash out at others.
The people who are closest to you might realize that you have a problem long before you notice yourself. If anyone has expressed concern, then it is worth taking them seriously. Whether it is your spouse, your boss, or a close friend, they might be noticing changes in your behavior that reflect negative mental health.
Substance abuse is common among people who try to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms. Unfortunately, using substances to cope can make your symptoms worse. This behavior can also lead to more problems in your life that make it harder to recover from your depression.
Thinking about self-harm is one of the most dangerous symptoms of depression. You might feel as though life will never get better, or you might start to think that other people would be better off without you in their life. Thoughts of self-harm are considered a mental health emergency. Reach out and talk to a professional now to protect your safety. There are many people in the world who understand what you are going through. If depression is the cause of these feelings, then the right treatment can help them stop.
Once depression takes hold over your life, you will find that it is harder to do the things you need to do each day. You might find that you are struggling at work or school. You may also find that it is harder to maintain other aspects of your health such as personal hygiene or eating well. Seeking help enables you to get back to living your former productive lifestyle.
Untreated depression can get worse or lead to you making unhealthy decisions. Answering yes to any of these questions could signify that you have symptoms of depression. If you’ve answered yes to more than three, then it is worth talking to someone about how you are feeling. You might have a form of depression that requires treatment. An affirmative answer to any of the final three questions is a sign of serious depression that needs to be addressed right away. Choosing to reach out for help gives you the opportunity to begin healing and enjoying life again.