My depression was first identified by a counselor when I was nineteen years old. I was young, but I had been struggling with depression symptoms since I was ten. Nine years is a long time to fight without help.
Without a diagnosis, that nine years was terrifying. I thought it was all my fault. Everyone else seemed happy. What was I doing wrong? I beat myself up for a long time.
Going to a counselor was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Even though someone I trusted recommended it, I had a knot in my stomach as I walked into an unfamiliar office.
It’s been almost six years now, and things are so much different. I’ve gotten better, and for the most part, stayed better. I have relapses from time to time. (This morning, for instance, was rough.) But on the whole, I’m winning the battle.
After my experience, I’ve become determined to help others who struggle with depression.
When you first begin to realize you might have depression, your mind goes into overdrive. You wonder if you really have depression, or if you just need to “get over it”. You wonder if having depression would make you a crazy person. You barely dare to hope, wondering if you might find an answer to the pain in your heart.
Common Depression Symptoms
A final diagnosis should always come from a doctor or counselor, but here is a list of symptoms. These are the primary symptoms you may experience when struggling with depression. There are physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms.
Depression takes a toll on your body. You might relate to the following symptoms:
- Energy: You’re fatigued or exhausted all the time
- Sleep: You have difficulty sleeping (or you sleep all the time)
- Food: You experience a loss of appetite (or eat a lot to stave off the pain
- Focus: You have difficulty concentrating, focusing, or remembering things
- Intimacy: You feel a lack of interest in physical intimacy with others
These physical depression symptoms make life difficult, and they exacerbate each other. If you have difficulty sleeping, your fatigue will get worse. If you don’t eat enough (or eat too much), you won’t be getting enough nutrients to focus. These symptoms become a vicious cycle.
Our behavior is a clue into our mind. If you are struggling with depression, there may be some telltale signs in your behavior. Do you behave in any of the following ways?
- Isolation: You spend less time with other people than before
- Avoidance: You avoid responding to phone calls, emails, or texts
- Over Sleeping: You spend a lot of time in bed
- Less Exercise: You do less physical activity and avoid exercise
- More Substance Use: You drink more or use drugs
These behavioral depression symptoms also exacerbate each other. The more you avoid answering texts and calls, the less time you will spend with your friends and family. The less you exercise, the worse your sleep schedule will be. And relying on alcohol or drugs can make you avoid
The cognitive symptoms are the ones we experience in our own minds. These are the most insidious. No one but you can observe them, since no one else can read your mind. Many people go to great lengths to hide their feelings. They hide their behavioral and physical symptoms from everyone else. But their cognitive symptoms are still there.
Cognitive symptoms are thoughts we have about ourselves or the world around us. See if you relate to any of these:
- “I am worthless” or “I’m not worth helping.”
- “I just need to get over this.”
- “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
- “I’m a bad person” or “I’m a loser.”
- “Things will never get better for me.”
- “This situation is hopeless.”
- “No one should have to take care of me. I take care of others.”
- “What’s the point of even trying?”
- “It would be better if I wasn’t even here.”
If you’re struggling with any of these cognitive depression symptoms, they effect your self-worth. When your self-worth becomes lower, you think more negative thoughts about yourself. A low self worth will affect your assertiveness, which can have a negative impact on your life.
What do do
dIf you match many (or any) of these symptoms, it’s time to get help. It’s scary to admit that you have depression. But taking the time to get the help you need is the best thing you can do. For me, getting help sounded scary. But it’s the best thing I ever did for myself.
Talk to a doctor or counselor soon. Or, you can call one of these hotlines:
The U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call this number immediately. They will help!
Kristin Brooks Hope Center Hopeline: 1-800-784-2433
These are kind people who can help you cope with depressed feelings.
Hope this is helpful. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!