Are you currently feeling blue and have you felt that way for two weeks or longer? If so, you may worry that you have depression.
You certainly wouldn’t be alone in your struggle if you were diagnosed with clinical depression. The National Institute of Mental Health found that 6.7% of American adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2016. That’s 16.2 million adults.
In answer to the question of, “What does depression feel like,” it’s important to note that everyone’s experience of depression is a little different. That said, there are some common threads that run through all depressive episodes. Let’s take a look at some of the more common ones.
- Negative thoughts are present in everyone’s internal dialogue from time to time. That’s just part of being human. But what about when nearly all of your thoughts become negative? This could be a sign that you are experiencing depression.
- You struggle to see the good in anything or anyone. You tend to focus on the perceived bad parts of yourself, other people, and life situations. You also have a hard time being happy with school, work, or your relationships. Others around you can notice good things in your life but you generally can’t.
- You rarely ever smile or laugh from the heart. Even your mirth is tinged with sadness. Because of the negative tape that perpetually plays in your mind, you may even feel dead or numb inside.
- That ongoing negativity may lead to feelings of hopelessness. This is very serious and may even include thoughts that you’d be better off dead, that you don’t want to live any more, or that you are actively thinking of hurting yourself. If this occurs, it is vital to seek immediate mental health and/or medical support. You can always call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255) that is available 24/7.
- This is more than just the occasional feeling of sadness that everyone goes through. Whereas everyone has to dip their feet into sadness once in a while, you may feel perpetually immersed in it. Forget the five-year plan. You’re just trying to get through today and doing so is taking all that you have. The present looks bleak and the future looks even darker.
Of course, it’s always a lie to think you should commit suicide. It’s just hard to see that when you’re severely depressed.
You Constantly Feel Fatigued
- Given the negative thinking and feelings of hopelessness common to depression, the fact that people experiencing depression regularly feel fatigued comes as no surprise.
- Positive thoughts and hope give vigor to the body, mind and soul. Negative thoughts and hopelessness steal a person’s energy and vigor away with depression. But this isn’t about positive and negative thinking. Depression is more serious than “just think happy thoughts.” It requires professional support.
- It can be tough to have adequate energy for work, family and other daily activities. Even the smallest tasks can sometimes be agonizing to complete.
- If you’re struggling with depression, you may lose interest in activities you once found enjoyment in.
- Perhaps you used to look forward to meeting your friends for coffee, playing a round of golf, or going to the gym for a challenging workout. With depression, even the things you once found fun may seem too exhausting to you. You may also lose interest in sexual intimacy.
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Physical ailments that don’t improve from treatment like chronic pain, digestive problems, or headaches
- Troubles with concentration, memory, or decision making
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia or waking too early
- Weight loss or gain due to under eating or overeating
Is There Help For My Depression?
Absolutely. Depression is a very common problem and, thankfully, there are many things that can help.
- Seek professional help for an assessment and to begin treatment.
- Lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, exercise, journaling and adequate sleep commonly help people to better manage their depression.
- Sometimes lifestyle improvements aren’t enough by themselves. In these cases, counseling, medication, or neurofeedback training may be recommended. A combination of these approaches also may be best. Everyone’s treatment for depression is a little different.
If you worry that you or a loved one may be struggling with depression, you don’t have to silently suffer. The Center for Neurocognitive Excellence is here for you. We offer both counseling and neurofeedback training as treatment for depression.