It’s perfectly normal to experience “the blues” at times – in fact, occasional feelings of depression represent part of the human experience. However, if you feel persistently blue and can’t seem to snap out of it, you may actually have clinical depression. If that’s the case, you almost certainly can’t just snap yourself out of it … but you can find help from professionals.
About 20 million Americans suffer from depression, which seems to result from altered brain chemistry. The condition frequently is chronic; if you’ve had it before, you’re at higher risk of having it again. There’s no cure, but it’s very treatable – both medication and counselling can work well to bring you out of your depression.
Symptoms Include Physical, Mental Symptoms
How can you tell if you’re clinically depressed, and not just experiencing some sadness and stress in your life? To diagnose you, your doctor will consider a series of behaviours and feelings involving your sleep patterns, your energy levels, your appetite and your thoughts.
For example, people with clinical depression frequently experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances. They may awaken much earlier than usual, or they may require much more sleep than normal. Either one of these patterns can indicate a problem.
Most people with depression also have trouble concentrating on tasks, and have much less energy than normal, both for everyday chores and even for activities they love. It’s also fairly common to find people who are clinically depressed neglecting their personal appearance or even their hygiene – if you can’t muster the energy to brush your hair, that’s a clear sign you should be screened.
Emotionally, depression causes persistent sad, lonely or “empty” moods – the clinical definition requires those moods to last at least two weeks, although they can continue for months or even years. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are extremely common, and thoughts of death or suicide also are common.
Finally, depression can cause physical symptoms along with emotional symptoms. People with depression frequently have headaches and stomach aches along with back and joint pain. These aches and pains aren’t really treatable, since they stem from mental, as opposed to physical, causes. However, treating the clinical depression frequently can clear up the physical symptoms, as well.