Before you read this, please know that I’m not a doctor or mental health professional. I’m just a woman in recovery who’s been coping with depression on and off for much of my life & sharing my experience. Please seek out a trusted friend or counselor to help you get through this. You’re not alone! Many of us are on the path of recovery from depression.
Signs You Could Be Depressed
Everyone feels down in the dumps from time to time. It’s a normal part of life. But if you find yourself feeling sad or hopeless for days or weeks at a time, it’s time to take a closer look at it. Maybe you’re always tired, not feeling well and you don’t have any interest in the things that used to motivate you. Or maybe you’re struggling with emotional eating to stuff the feelings.
Other signs of depression might include increased moodiness and irritability. When you don’t feel well, it’s normal for your patience to be limited in other areas of your life. Brain fog can also be a sign of depression when it begins to drag on for days or weeks.
People living with chronic illness can be especially prone to depression. If this is a struggle for you, please read this article about going on with life after the diagnosis.
Thinking About Suicide
One sure sign that you might have depression is an increase in suicidal thoughts. This can happen to some people during a bout of intense depression, it’s not something that’s ongoing or long term and they may realize that they had the thought only after it passed.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts that won’t go away, or if you’re considering how you might do it, then please seek help right away. Know that you can go to the emergency room. You might have severe depression and could possibly become a danger to yourself. A professional doctor or counselor can help you to develop an ongoing counseling and treatment program.
I was there myself in 1985, shortly before I got sober. Bogged down with past traumas, life was overwhelming and I felt like completely worthless. Getting into 12 step recovery and finding people who understand helped me to move past this mindset, but I will always have to be vigilant about managing depression when it comes up.
10 Ways to Reach Out When You’re Struggling With Your Mental Health is easily the best and most complete post I’ve seen on the difficult subject of suicide prevention and reaching out for help. If you want to reach out but don’t know what to ask for or what to say, please read this. And bookmark it for the future if you have to.
If you’re struggling with severe fatigue that isn’t related to chronic illness, it might be a sign of depression. Insomnia is probably related to depression when you can’t fall sleep or you wake up with sudden anxiety attacks or a heavy, depressed feeling.
Your Whole Body Aches
Body aches can happen to anyone after a workout, during sickness like a cold or flu or for many other reasons. But if you’re having physical aches and pains that don’t have an obvious cause, then it may be depression related.
If you’re having one or more of these signs of depression, please make an appointment to see a qualified counselor or doctor. They’ll work with you to come up with a treatment plan to help you.
What Are the Different Types of Depression?
Many of us think that depression is just an overwhelming heaviness that takes over our lives. However, there are many different types of depression. It’s good to have an understanding of what they are so that you can seek appropriate treatment.
Dysthymia is also called persistent depressive disorder. This type of depression is easily confused with major depression. Dysthymia depression creates a sad or depressed effect that lasts for a long period of time. People might think you have a gloomy personality. You may have ongoing fatigue issues and struggle with cold like symptoms. This type of depression may be treated with over the counter supplements, mild forms of depression medication, or natural methods such as herbs or mindfulness journaling.
Postpartum depression is hard to talk about. You’ve just had a baby and should be over the moon excited, right? But some moms get depressed after having their babies. And if it’s not recognized and treated, it can go on for years.
One reason may be a loss of hormones, especially during difficult pregnancies. Having a child with intense medical needs can also trigger depression. For some, symptoms may be mild with feelings of fatigue and anxiety, but some moms may struggle with suicidal thoughts. Coping with postpartum depression generally requires counseling and drug therapy.
Atypical depression is a form of depression that has more physical symptoms than emotional. These symptoms may include increased appetite or weight gain, extreme fatigue and moodiness. In fact, it can be misdiagnosed as a physical issue that requires physical therapy.
Some women might feel like their extremeties feel incredibly heavy, because this type of depression works through your muscles and nerve endings causing these symptoms. Atypical depression is typically treated with focusing on diet and exercise since overweight individuals and people with eating disorders are at the highest risk for atypical depression.
If you think that you are suffering from these, or other types of depression, consider speaking with your doctor. They will be able to help you with treatment plans and how you and cope with your symptoms. They can also offer suggestions for natural therapy that works for both long and short term assistance.
How to Help a Loved One With Their Depression
If you don’t live with depression yourself, it’s hard to know what to say or do when someone you love is struggling with it. The following tips are going to help you help your loved one with depression.
Know What to Say to Someone Struggling With Depression
Your words have the ability to make a big impact on someone who’s struggling and help them to feel better or worse. One of the best things you can do is to let them know that you’ll be there for them and their life matters. Let them know they’re not crazy. Send encouraging texts. Just be present and offer your help.
Also Know What Not to Say to Someone Struggling With Depression
Don’t tell them you know how they feel when you’ve never struggled with depression yourself. Don’t make light of what they’re thinking about or feeling. Remember, there is no quick and easy solution here. If you’re a real friend, be ready to go the distance with them as they work things out.
Depression is a complicated condition that is very hard for others to understand. Don’t make assumptions or hint that it is all in their head. And don’t try to tell them just to be positive or look on the bright side.
What your friend really needs is real empathy and a listening ear.
If the situation warrants it, encourage them to seek treatment. Help them make an appointment with their doctor, because people with depression will procrastinate about taking this step on their own. Let them know you’ll be there with them, even going to appointments with them if they need that.
Coping With Depression Without Medication
I’ve never used medication for coping with depression though I’ve certainly been encouraged to. It’s a very personal decision and there’s no shame in whatever route you choose. (For me, I was leery of the meds and possible side effects, but I won’t rule meds out in the future if the situation ever grew worse.) These methods have worked for me, but again, every person is different. Please reach out for help if your depression is overwhelming.
Journaling for Depression
Journaling is often mentioned to help with depression. Writing things down can help you to work through ongoing issues and what might be causing them. Journaling can help you find out the root of what might be going on. Journaling can also help you to focus on gratitude and the positive aspects of your day. (For me, just writing things down, playing with stickers and pretty paper gets my mind off what’s going on and is very healing.)
Mindfulness meditation is very helpful for people with ongoing depression issues. Mindfulness techniques include meditation, journaling, and yoga. Mindfulness simply means to focus on the present, think about what’s positive, noticing your thoughts in a non-judgmental way, and then moving on to a better space.
Mindfulness can help give you an better outlook on life and help you get things back on track. This may or may not work for severe depression, but it can help reduce symptoms.
People who are depressed may struggle with disordered or binge eating. Work towards improving your relationship with food and you’ll feel much better and see an improvement in the way you handle what life throws at you.
When to See a Doctor For Your Depression
Depression may be something that’s plagued you for years. Maybe you tried to self treat with methods like journaling, supplements, or diet changes. Though this may work for some people, there are cases where it doesn’t work and the depression becomes worse. If this sounds like you, you might be wondering when you should see a doctor for your depression.
If this is the case, you may be wondering when it is time to break down and see a doctor for your depression.
If natural methods haven’t worked for you, you may be dealing with more deep rooted issues. You may also be treating a form of depression that is not diagnosed and your treatment is not accurate for your particular form of depression.
If you’re struggling with persistent suicidal thoughts, please see a doctor for assistance right away. A good doctor or counselor will help you with a treatment plan and counseling option to help curb the recurring thoughts and keep them at bay while you work on your depression and anxiety as a whole. If the suicidal thoughts are overwhelming, please go to a local emergency clinic or hospital for assistance.
Self Harm Issues
Many people think of self harm as someone cutting themselves. But it isn’t the only ones. Other forms of self harm can involve drugs, drinking, and ongoing self destructive behavior. (This is what I lived with.) This is often done to numb overwhelming emotional pain. If you’re struggling with self harm please seek out treatment from a qualified professional.
In conclusion, there are several different types of depression. Everyone is different, and will respond differently. What worked for me may not work for you. Be open to what treatment plans you’re offered.
Coping with depression and ongoing recovery is ongoing process that will need time to work out.
If you’re struggling with depression, please reach out to a friend, counselor or mental health professional. I’ve started a list of mental health resources here.