National Depression Screening Day is an annual event that takes place on October 5 this year. Along with awareness activities and programs, an optional screening for depression is offered. If you think you or a loved one might be suffering from depression, taking advantage of a screening is a great first step toward getting treatment. If you don’t want to go to a facility, you can take an online depression screening in the privacy of your own home (to be interpreted by your doctor). If you’re not sure whether you have the symptoms of depression, check out this list of possible signs along with tips on what to do if you suspect you have the condition.
Do you find it hard to get up and get things done? Maybe you can’t get out of bed in the morning or you walk around in a fog many days. You might be just exhausted by the end of the day even though you haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary. This type of persistent low energy can be a sign of depression.
Feeling Sad, Worthless, or Guilty
Most people know that persistent sadness is a hallmark symptom of depression. Guilt and feelings of worthlessness are, too. While everyone has a blue day now and then, the feelings associated with depression generally last longer than two weeks and impact your life. If you have gone through a deep loss, such as the death of a loved one or the breakup of a romantic relationship, it’s reasonable to expect that you’ll be sad for longer than two weeks. If it’s still impacting your life to the point that you cannot function at all, however, that’s a sign that depression might be taking hold and it’s time to seek help.
Many times, people with depression find that they can’t eat. They might feel nauseated by the sight or smell of food or they might simply not be hungry. As a result, they might lose weight. Not eating well can also contribute to the loss of energy common with depression. It’s important to get this symptom evaluated because a loss of appetite can also be a symptom of serious physical health problems.
On the other hand, some with depression will begin to eat more. They use food as a coping mechanism or they simply fall into the habit of eating at various times of the day or night. This can lead to weight gain and all of the health effects that accompany overweight or obesity.
Although depression often causes exhaustion, many people suffering from the condition find that it’s nearly impossible for them to drift off to sleep. If you are in this situation, you might finally fall asleep only to wake up again several hours and find it hard to go back to sleep. Insomnia can contribute to a host of other issues, including low energy, sadness, and feelings of hopelessness.
Either as a result of insomnia or as a separate problem, many people who have depression have a hard time getting up in the morning. They might stay in bed sleeping well into the day or even all day. This, of course, can exacerbate the trouble with falling asleep later at night, so it can create a cycle of sleep disturbances.
Feeling Hopeless About the Future
During hard times, it’s natural to feel anxious and worried about the future. If you are feeling totally hopeless, however, and the feeling persists more than a couple of weeks, then you might be dealing with depression. You might also feel hopeless with no outside factors at all; if someone were to look at you and your life, they might think you have it all together or that you don’t have any problems.
Losing Interest in Activities and Things You’ve Enjoyed
Have you recently found that you’ve lost interest in your hobbies, your work, sex, and other activities that you’ve enjoyed? Not being able to look forward to activities or not wanting to get involved anymore can be a sign of depression. This is particularly true if you haven’t replaced your previously favored activities with new activities that you like more.
Isolating Yourself From Others
Many times, someone with depression will begin to isolate him- or herself from others. You might decline invitations or refuse to even answer phone calls or texts. You might feel better just staying home when you once enjoyed being with your friends. Maybe you avoid people who come to your door or you don’t talk to anyone at work anymore. Some of this is based on personality; some people simply socialize less than others, and that’s fine. If you are dropping friendships and not spending time with people as much as you used to because it feels too hard, then you might be dealing with depression.
You might feel like your brain is foggy and that you can’t concentrate or make decisions. You might have trouble with small choices like what to have for dinner or which route to take to work. You might have trouble at work or while helping your kids with their homework. You might also find it difficult to keep up with housework.
Thoughts of Suicide
The most severe ramification of depression is suicide. If you are having thoughts of suicide or thinking about ways to die, this could turn into an emergency situation. You should get in to see your doctor immediately. If it’s nighttime or on the weekend and you are in danger, you can go to the emergency room. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Take a Depression Screening Today
If you are struggling with depression, there are several ways that you can get help. The first is to go get a depression screening from a healthcare provider. If no providers in your area are offering the free depression screening, you can take one online, but be sure to take the results with you to your doctor. Your primary care doctor can perform a screening and refer you for additional testing for physical and mental health conditions. If you see a counselor or psychologist, you can ask them to screen you for depression. If you feel suicidal, you can go the ER. There are many resources available for people who need help, and using one of them is the first step toward feeling better.