I Think I’m Depressed
Depression develops gradually and then suddenly. A lot of people don’t realise the signs are there until they wake up one day and their life doesn’t feel worth living. It’s estimated that about 4.5% of people are depressed in the UK.  However, if you’re wondering if what you’re experiencing is depression or just bad days, you’re already taking the first step to getting better.
What Is Depression and What Isn’t?
Feeling down or hopeless is normal once in a while, especially when you face obstacles. However, if you experience negative emotions that persist despite your best efforts or for no apparent reason, it might be a sign you’re depressed.
Depression can be characterised by a feeling of hopelessness, emptiness and sadness, losing interest in previously enjoyed activities, feeling unmotivated, experiencing sleep problems, lack of appetite, tiredness, concentration problems, mood swings or irritability, suicidal thoughts and often unexplained pains. Some people might also engage in risky behaviours to cope with overwhelming emotions.
Types of Depression
Dysthymia is a chronic depression with moderate symptoms, which might be more difficult to diagnose than other types of depression as it might seem to you like you’ve been feeling this way your whole life or that it’s just a part of who you are.
- Major depressive disorder
While people who suffer from dysthymia can experience periods of normal mood, major depressive disorder is characterised by symptoms that significantly interfere with their daily functioning.
- Atypical depression
Also known as responsive depression, atypical depression is associated with a lifted mood when the sufferer receives good news or when something positive happens to them.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
SAD is a type of depression that appears during the autumn and winter months and depends on the weather. If your mood seems to lift when days are sunny, it might be a sign you have SAD.
What Causes Depression?
It’s impossible to pinpoint one main cause; depression is believed to be a combination of environmental, biological and psychological factors. However, life circumstances such as being under chronic stress, isolation, chronic pain, relationship problems, job loss and history of trauma are some of the risk factors that can make you more predisposed to developing depression.
How Can I Help Myself Feel Better?
The problem with depression is that you don’t remember what it feels like not to suffer from it. This is also why it’s so difficult to make positive changes in your lifestyle. But even small things can lift your mood. You could try to:
- Reach out to people
Depression can make you feel like nobody cares about you which isn’t helping your mood and might lead to more social withdrawal. Make sure to reach out to your loved ones even if you don’t feel like it.
- Include exercise in your routine
Physical activity causes your body to release feel-good hormones which can make you feel more relaxed and motivated.
- Improve your diet
Eating unhealthy foods can seem like a quick fix when you struggle to find joy in anything but it will negatively affect you in the long run. A healthy diet can improve your mood and make you feel more energised.
Lastly, consider reaching out for professional help as managing symptoms of depression on your own is very difficult. Contact My Family Psychologist for a confidential chat