How to tell if you are depressed

How to tell if you are depressed

Depression Symptoms: How to know if you are depressed or just feeling sad

How to tell if you are depressed

Darlings, no matter how hard you try, you can’t be a little ray of sunshine every single day. Fact! Sometimes you just don’t feel like smiling because you’ve had a bad day at work, a row with your partner, or even because you are feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed and unsupported. But how do you know if you’re just having one of those off days and just feeling a bit sad, or suffering from depression?

What’s the difference between sadness and depression?

Do you know the difference? Don’t worry, most people don’t. However, it is important to understand the difference. This is because sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.

So, what is the difference?

The biggest difference is that when you are feeling sad, in general, you will be able to explain what it is that is causing your sadness or unhappiness. Your sadness can be caused by seasonal affective disorder. However, a person suffering from depression may not necessarily be able to do so. This is because with depression you are unable to see an end to your problems and believe things will get worse.

What is depression?

It’s important to note that not every sad person has depression, however, anyone experiencing depression will almost certainly experience sadness.

Sadness is a normal and natural reaction to an external experience, whereas depression is more extreme. Clinical depression is a mental illness that has many symptoms and, unlike sadness, affects everyday life.

When people are depressed they generally lose interest in their daily activities; job, relationships, exercise and other things they would normally do.

And bouts of depression can last for weeks, months, or even years. Sufferers are seemingly trapped in an endless cycle of intense, and sometimes, overpowering negative feelings. Depression is also not something one can simply ‘snap out of’, however much one wishes it. It normally takes assistance in the form of therapy or counselling to help loosen the grip that depression has.

Common symptoms of depression

This is not an exhaustive list, but the following are the most common symptoms of depression:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities, hobbies, appearance and relationships
  • Extreme tiredness, lethargy, tiredness and insomnia
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • A feeling of hopelessness and a negative outlook on life
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Lack of self-worth
  • Inability to concentrate and lack of focus

If you have any symptoms of depression your first port of call should be your doctor.

Is there anything I can do for myself?

As Jane Austen said, it’s a truth universally acknowledge that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are intrinsically linked. What we think, affects how we feel and ultimately how we end up behaving.

So, if you are feeling depressed or you are having any of these symptoms and you want to know how to beat depression, here are some things you can do to help yourself:

Learn to recognise your triggers

It’s easier said than done, but when you start feeling depressed trying looking within. Ask yourself why you’re feeling this way and think about what could be your mental health triggers.

When you have some ‘answers’, write them down, and then every time you have a negative thought, or feeling, write down everything about that emotion. Journaling emotions helps you discover your triggers, and once discovered they are a lot easier to control.

Exercise

Yes, I know, exercise is the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling depressed. What you do want to do is curl up underneath the duvet with a tub of ice cream.

But exercise releases those endorphins to boost your mood which, as we all know having watched Legally Blonde (in my case too many times), make you happy.

Of course, if you hate going to the gym then forcing yourself to go is not going to help at all. Find an exercise you enjoy doing. At the very least, go for a walk. Walking releases the endorphins, but also walking in nature helps relax the mind.

Watch your diet

It’s very easy to go one way or the other with your diet when you’re depressed. You either don’t want to eat, or you overeat. So try and eat a healthy diet to improve your physical and mental health(of course, the odd treat isn’t all bad).

There is no fast fix, just stick to a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. It is thought that oily fish, and dark green leafy vegetables also help.

Routines and goals

When you’re suffering a bout of depression you don’t want to do anything.

Try and get yourself into some sort of daily routine, and set yourself small goals. It can be as simple as just getting up, getting showered and getting dressed each day, for a start.

Once you’ve mastered that small goal, try and set yourself some more small goals. Small is best, because they are easier to achieve which will improve your confidence and self-esteem.

Try something new

Trying something new gets you out of the depressive rut you find yourself in.

Doing something that challenges you helps increase the amount of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ hormone that your body releases. Why not start reading about holistic health or start using ASMR?

The power of the mind is immense, and there’s much truth in the saying ‘mind over matter’. And the only person who has control over your mind is you. So the trick is to learn to control it to your advantage, and once you’ve done that, the world is your oyster.

Until next time darlings.

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

In this Article

  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Are There Warning Signs of Suicide With Depression?
  • Are There Other Therapies to Treat Symptoms of Depression?
  • When Should I Seek Help?

Most of us feel sad, lonely, or depressed at times. It’s a normal reaction to loss, life’s struggles, or injured self-esteem. But when these feelings become overwhelming, cause physical symptoms, and last for long periods of time, they can keep you from leading a normal, active life.

That’s when it’s time to seek medical help.

Your regular doctor is a good place to start. They can test you for depression and help manage your symptoms. If your depression goes untreated, it may get worse and last for months, even years. It can cause pain and possibly lead to suicide, as it does for about 1 of every 10 people with depression.

Recognizing the symptoms is key. Unfortunately, about half the people who have depression never get it diagnosed or treated.

Symptoms

They can include:

  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • Pessimism and hopelessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much
  • Crankiness or irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of interest in things once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away
  • Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts

Diagnosis

There isn’t a “depression test” a doctor can use to see if you have it, so figuring that out often starts with a thorough history and physical exam.

Your doctor will want to know:

  • When your symptoms started
  • How long they’ve lasted
  • How severe they are
  • If depression or other mental illnesses run in your family
  • If you have a history of drug or alcohol abuse

You’ll also be asked if you’ve had similar symptoms of depression before, and if so, how they wereВ treated.

Treatment

If your doctor rules out a physical cause for your symptoms, they may start you on a treatment or refer you to a mental health professional. This specialist will figure out the best course of treatment. That may include medicines (such as antidepressants), a type of therapy called psychotherapy, or both.

Be prepared for the process to take some time. You may need to try different treatments. And it may take more than a month for drugs to take their full effect.

Are There Warning Signs of Suicide With Depression?

Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Suicidal thoughts or intentions are serious. Warning signs include:

  • A sudden switch from sadness to extreme calmness, or appearing to be happy
  • Always talking or thinking about death
  • Clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • Taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, like tying up loose ends or changing a will
  • Saying things like “It would be better if I weren’t here” or “I want out”
  • Talking about suicide
  • Visiting or calling close friends and loved ones

If you or someone you know shows any of the above warning signs, call your local suicide hotline, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room.

Are There Other Therapies to Treat Symptoms of Depression?

There are other treatments your doctor may consider. Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a treatment option for people whose symptoms don’t get better with medicine or who have severe depression and need treatment right away.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, involves usingВ a noninvasive device that is held above the head to induce the magnetic field. ItВ targets a specific part of the brain that can trigger depression.

With vagus nerve stimulation, or VMS, a pacemaker-like device is surgically implanted under the collarbone to deliver regular impulses to the brain.

When Should I Seek Help?

If your symptoms of depression are causing problems with relationships, work, or your family — and there isn’t a clear solution — you should see a professional.

Talking with a mental health counselor or doctor can help prevent things from getting worse, especially if your symptoms stay for any length of time.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or feelings, get help right away.

It’s important to understand that feeling depressed doesn’t mean you have depression. That condition involves not only changes in mood, but also changes in sleep, energy, appetite, concentration, and motivation.

If you have physical symptoms like these and find yourself feeling depressed much of the time for days or weeks, see your doctor.

Show Sources

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5.

National Institute of Mental Health: “What are the symptoms of depression?”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Depression.”

The National Women’s Health Information Center: “Depression.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Depression in Older Adults: What it is and how to get help.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association. “Recommendations for Screening Depression in Adults.”

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If you need to talk about your test call the Depression Helpline on 0800 111 757. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This support is only available for people in Aotearoa New Zealand.









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      How to tell if you are depressed

      Bipolar disorder and depression are very similar illnesses with one major difference: People with bipolar disorder switch between episodes of depression and episodes of mania. Because these two illnesses are so similar, some people who are diagnosed as having depression may actually have bipolar disorder. One reason for this misdiagnosis is that people with bipolar disorder often only seek treatment during a depressive episode. They may also be unaware that when they’re not feeling depressed, they may actually be experiencing an episode of mania.

      Here’s more information about the differences between bipolar disorder and depression.

      What is Depression?

      Clinical (or major) depression is a serious illness that affects every aspect of an individual’s life, including their personal and family relationships, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and general health. The symptoms of depression include:

      • Loss of energy
      • Prolonged sadness
      • Decreased activity and energy
      • Restlessness and irritability
      • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
      • Increased feelings of worry and anxiety
      • Less interest or participation in, and less enjoyment of activities normally enjoyed
      • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
      • Thoughts of suicide
      • Change in appetite (either eating more or eating less)
      • Change in sleep patterns (either sleeping more or sleeping less)

      What is Bipolar Disorder?

      Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in moods that alternate between “highs” (or mania) and “lows” (or depression). These manic and depressive periods vary from person to person and can last from just a few hours or days to several weeks or even months. Sometimes these periods of intense emotions are so brief and so far between that many people may not be aware that they have bipolar disorder. Sometimes these cycles are so strong and close together that it is very difficult to maintain a normal life and have normal relationships.

      Bipolar depression shares many of the same symptoms of regular depression. Manic episodes are often harder to identify because many people don’t understand what the symptoms of mania are. If you experience episodes of depression followed by the following symptoms of mania, you may have bipolar disorder.

      • An extremely elated, happy mood or an extremely irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
      • Increased physical and mental activity and energy
      • Racing thoughts
      • Increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
      • Ambitious, often grandiose plans
      • Risk taking
      • Impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion, and alcohol abuse
      • Decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue

      Do I have Depression or Bipolar Disorder?

      The depressive phase of bipolar disorder shares many similarities to regular depression, including prolonged sadness, inability to concentrate, loss of energy, difficulty sleeping, and thoughts of suicide. People with bipolar depression, however, tend to have more unpredictable mood swings, more irritability and guilt, and more feelings of restlessness. They also tend to move and speak slowly, sleep a lot and gain weight.

      According to HelpGuide.org, your depression might be bipolar disorder if:

      • You’ve experienced repeated episodes of major depression.
      • You had your first episode of major depression before age 25.
      • You have a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder.
      • When you’re not depressed, your mood and energy levels are higher than most people’s.
      • When you’re depressed, you oversleep and overeat.
      • Your episodes of major depression are short (less than 3 months)
      • You’ve lost contact with reality while depressed.
      • You’ve had postpartum depression before.
      • You’ve developed mania or hypomania while taking an antidepressant.
      • Your antidepressant stopped working after several months.†
      • You’ve tried 3 or more antidepressants without success.

      Depression and Bipolar Disorder Treatment

      There are a variety of effective treatment options available for depression and bipolar disorder, including medication, psychotherapy and holistic therapies. If you believe you have depression, it’s important see a mental health professional who specializes in mood disorders so that you’re properly diagnosed. Bipolar depression is treated differently than regular depression, so misdiagnosis can potentially lead to dangerous problems, including the fact that antidepressants can actually make bipolar disorder worse.

      At Casa Palmera, we believe in treating depression, bipolar disorder and other mood disorders with traditional treatments like therapy and medications, but we also believe in a holistic approach that includes alternative methods of treatment such as yoga, acupuncture and herbal medicine. Call Casa Palmera today and ask how our holistic depression and bipolar disorder treatment program can return you to a healthy mind, body and emotional state of well-being.

      In this Article

      • Your depression goes way deeper than just “feeling down.”
      • You have bouts of over-the-top energy and excitement.
      • Bipolar disorder runs in your family.
      • You have another illness such as psychosis, anxiety, ADHD, or a drug or alcohol addiction.
      • How to Get Help
      • How to Treat It

      Ever feel like your emotional highs are higher than others’, and your lows lower? If so, ask your doctor about a bipolar disorder screening. This condition, also called manic depression, is a condition of extremes. It can run in families. How your brain works and even its structure might figure in, too. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help you manage your life and feel more stable.

      Your depression goes way deeper than just “feeling down.”

      Bipolar depression shows up in different ways for different people. You might have trouble sleeping. Or you might sleep too much, and even find it hard to get up. The smallest decisions can seem huge. Overwhelming feelings of failure, guilt, or deep loss can trigger suicidal thoughts.

      Other signs to look for:

      • You feel like you can’t enjoy anything.
      • You find it hard to focus.
      • You eat too little or too much.
      • You’re weary, and your movements seem slow.
      • You’re forgetful.

      For a bipolar disorder diagnosis, you must have several depression symptoms that make it hard for you to function every day for at least 2 weeks.

      You have bouts of over-the-top energy and excitement.

      This is mania. It’s a high that goes way beyond “happy” or “joyful.” Some people have it often, others hardly ever.

      Hypomania is a milder form of this feeling. It doesn’t turn into psychosis (lose touch with reality) like mania can, but it’s part of a bipolar diagnosis. You might feel great and get a lot done, but those around you might see changes in your mood and activity levels.

      To get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, you must have had at least one manic or hypomanic experience.

      Signs of manic behavior include:

      • Your mood isn’t comfortable. It might feel good at first, especially after depression. But it quickly becomes erratic and out of control.
      • Your judgment swerves way off. You take extreme risks. You make bad decisions with no thought for what might happen. For instance, you might spend money recklessly or have risky sex.
      • You get bad-tempered and angry.
      • You feel strung-out or edgy.
      • You find it hard to sleep.
      • You feel like your mind is a freeway. You might talk super-fast and hop subjects, or think you can do too many things at once.

      Some episodes can mix mania and depression. For example, you might feel hyper-energetic and full of despair at the same time.

      Bipolar disorder runs in your family.

      The chance that you’ll have bipolar disorder goes up if your parents or brothers or sisters have it. But it doesn’t always happen that way. For example, studies of identical twins show that one twin might have the illness, while the other doesn’t.

      You have another illness such as psychosis, anxiety, ADHD, or a drug or alcohol addiction.

      Some bipolar disorder symptoms are a lot like other conditions. They can be hard to separate and diagnose.

      For example, mania can feature psychotic symptoms. You might think you’re famous or have superpowers. On the flip side, with manic depression, you might think you’ve ruined your life in some dramatic way.

      People with bipolar disorder also can have:

      • Anxiety disorder or ADHD
      • An eating disorder
      • PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder
      • A physical disorder such as diabetes, obesity, migraines, or thyroid or heart disease
      • Substance abuse problems

      How to Get Help

      About 2.6% of the U.S. population have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It usually comes on at about age 25, but it can happen earlier. There are different types, too. Symptoms can happen — or not happen — along a wide spectrum.

      A “life chart” is a good way to track your moods and help your doctor diagnose whether you have bipolar disorder. You’ll record details about your moods, sleep patterns, and events in your life. If you’re on a manic swing, you might feel “up” and capable, but a look at the big picture will show you how a “down” will follow. The info also will give your doctor a window into your day-to-day — even hour-to-hour — life to decide how best to proceed with treatment if needed.

      Special phone apps can help you keep up, too. There are quite a few available to help you track your moods, medications, sleep patterns, and more. One even analyzes how you type on your phone: your rhythm and speed, mistakes, corrections, and other dynamics, but not your content. It then uses this data to gauge your mood and predict bipolar episodes. Just remember that these apps don’t take the place of following a treatment plan under your doctor’s care.

      How to Treat It

      The main ways to treat and manage bipolar disorder include:

      • Medications, like mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and sometimes antidepressants
      • Action plans to educate you about the disorder. These can help you manage it on your own by helping you know when an episode is coming on.
      • Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and family-focused therapy
      • Activities that support your treatment, such as exercise and spiritual practices

      Show Sources

      National Institute of Mental Health: “Bipolar Disorder,” “What is Psychosis?”

      National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Bipolar Disorder.”

      The Medical Journal of Australia: “Diagnosis and Monitoring of Bipolar Disorder in General Practice.”

      University of Illinois at Chicago: “App Developed at UIC to Track Mood, Predict Bipolar Disorder Episodes.”

      International Journal of Bipolar Disorders: “Smartphone-based Objective Monitoring in Bipolar Disorder: Status and Considerations.”

      Neuroscience: “The Genetics of Bipolar Disorder.”

      Journal of Abnormal Psychology: “Progression along the Bipolar Spectrum: A Longitudinal Study of Predictors of Conversion from Bipolar Spectrum Conditions to Bipolar I and II Disorders.”

      According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 15 million people in America suffer from clinical depression. It also causes disability in people between 15 and 44 years of age. Depression is quite common, but many people confuse its symptoms with other disorders. Similarly, some people are only lazy but they think they are depressed.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      Am I Depressed or Just Lazy?

      In order to answer this question, you need to develop a better understanding about the signs related to both problems.

      You’re lazy if you know you can do something but don’t do it because of the effort involved. Instead of doing that task, you prefer not to do anything or do some less strenuous activity.

      You’re depressed if you develop a bleak outlook and start to think that nothing will ever get better in life. You will also lose interest in your daily activities, pastimes and hobbies. Here are some other common signs and symptoms of depression:

      • You will lose your appetite or notice sudden increase in it. This will lead to significant weight gain or weight loss.
      • You will notice sleep changes, such as insomnia or hypersomnia.
      • You will feel irritable and restless. Your tolerance level will decrease and you may even become violent at times.
      • You will feel sluggish, fatigued and physically drained.
      • You will develop strong feels of guilt or worthlessness.
      • You are more likely to engage in escapist behavior such as compulsive gambling, substance abuse, dangerous sports or reckless driving.
      • You will develop concentration problems and have trouble in focusing and making decisions.
      • You will notice unexplained pains and aches, including backache, headache, etc.

      By having a closer look at these symptoms, it will become evident that depression is actually a mood disorder, and laziness is something completely different. If you’re a procrastinator and feel lazy all the time, it doesn’t mean you’re depressed as well. Many people can still enjoy life even though they are extremely lazy. Just don’t panic if you’re lazy – you can do a lot to change your behavior.

      If You Are Just Lazy, How to Change It

      Am I depressed or just lazy? You will find out just by paying attention to the abovementioned symptoms. If you’re just lazy, the question left is,”What should you do when you know you’re chronically lazy?” The thing you need to understand is that laziness will lead to more laziness, so it is important that you do something to change it. Here’re some tipsthat can help you overcome your laziness gradually:

      • Learn to break down larger tasks into smaller ones because large tasks often look too tiring and too overwhelming. Smaller tasks won’t look intimidating and you will be able to do them on time.
      • Be sure to take enough rest and exercise regularly to keep your batteries charged. Sometimes, laziness is only because you don’t have any energy to perform a task. So, give your body enough rest and fresh air to perform better.
      • Lack of motivation is usually the main reason why you feel lazy. Try affirmations to strengthen your motivation. Visualization techniques and thinking about the importance of completing a task will also help keep you motivated.
      • Focus on all the benefits you will get once you overcome your laziness. Don’t think about the obstacles or difficulties because this will lead to discouragement and keep you from taking any action to overcome laziness.
      • Think about the consequences of not completing a task on time. Make yourself understand that you will have to pay in the long-run if you succumb to laziness.
      • Don’t start too many things all at the same time. You should have your focus on one thing at a time. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and keep you on your toes as well.
      • What you imagine will have an impact on what you end up achieving. It means you should use the power of visualization to change your habits. Simply visualizing that you’re performing a particular task energetically, easily and enthusiastically will actually make it easier in the real life.
      • Take every task you complete as an exercise to feel stronger, more asserting and more decisive.
      • Learn to get rid of procrastination. If you have to do something, “now” is the right time to do it.
      • Learn from successful people. Watch them on TV. Hear what they say and follow those pieces of advice to get rid of laziness.

      If You Are Depressed, What Should You Do?

      If depression is your answer to “Am I depressed or just lazy”, you should go see your doctor immediately. You can now find a number of effective and proven ways to get rid of depression. Your doctor is more likely to start with antidepressants and physiotherapy. Research shows that combining therapy with medication proves more effective and beneficial. Talk to your friends, family members or someone you trust if you’re feeling a bit reluctant to make an appointment with your doctor. Call your mental health specialists immediately if you have suicide thoughts.

      You can also learn 10 helpful tips that you can apply in everyday life from the video below:

      Detecting anxiety and depression is one of the most important things you can do. It is truly the first step to recovery. To tell if you or a loved one is suffering from depression you will have at least five of the most common symptoms. These symptoms will affect your self-image in the following ways – feeling hopeless, feeling guilty, feeling worthless, feeling helpless, and feeling empty. If you feel any of these ways on a daily or regular basis, you may be suffering from depression. Other common symptoms are loss of interest in the activities that you enjoy the most and a decrease in energy in general. If you find yourself sulking away from society, be sure to confide in a close relative or a friend how things are going.

      Failing to do so might be the last mistake you will ever make. You may also feel so tired and weak every day that its effecting your work or daily activities. Because your body feels so weak, you will find that it is difficult to concentrate. You may become spacey and even blackout from your depression. Not only does your body feel tired, but your mind is tired to, so you will have the worst time remembering things.

      Another factor of depression is insomnia or hypersomnia. Insomnia is where you find it hard to fall asleep or to stay asleep. You may awaken yourself numerous times during the night or rise early. Hypersomnia is when you sleep long hours of the day. Some have been known to sleep through days. You may also feel like your restless or irritable on a daily basis. The restlessness could bring on thoughts of death or suicide because you can’t control yourself anymore. Depression can also affect your diet. You may stop eating or overeat.

      So if you think you have any of these symptoms, you just might have a mild case of depression. Remember, however, that for depression to be depression and not just sadness, the effects have to persist for two weeks or more in length. Whatever the source of your feelings, talking with a good friend always helps.

      If you are having thoughts of harming your self or of suicide, don’t wait for them to go away on their own. Visit your doctor right away. There are lots of different treatments for depression, including drug therapy, light therapy (did you know that some people get depressed during winter months because their bodies aren’t getting enough sunlight?) and counseling. If you are feeling depressed, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Many people suffer from one form of depression or another, and have successfully found a way to feel better.

      In this Article

      • Your depression goes way deeper than just “feeling down.”
      • You have bouts of over-the-top energy and excitement.
      • Bipolar disorder runs in your family.
      • You have another illness such as psychosis, anxiety, ADHD, or a drug or alcohol addiction.
      • How to Get Help
      • How to Treat It

      Ever feel like your emotional highs are higher than others’, and your lows lower? If so, ask your doctor about a bipolar disorder screening. This condition, also called manic depression, is a condition of extremes. It can run in families. How your brain works and even its structure might figure in, too. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help you manage your life and feel more stable.

      Your depression goes way deeper than just “feeling down.”

      Bipolar depression shows up in different ways for different people. You might have trouble sleeping. Or you might sleep too much, and even find it hard to get up. The smallest decisions can seem huge. Overwhelming feelings of failure, guilt, or deep loss can trigger suicidal thoughts.

      Other signs to look for:

      • You feel like you can’t enjoy anything.
      • You find it hard to focus.
      • You eat too little or too much.
      • You’re weary, and your movements seem slow.
      • You’re forgetful.

      For a bipolar disorder diagnosis, you must have several depression symptoms that make it hard for you to function every day for at least 2 weeks.

      You have bouts of over-the-top energy and excitement.

      This is mania. It’s a high that goes way beyond “happy” or “joyful.” Some people have it often, others hardly ever.

      Hypomania is a milder form of this feeling. It doesn’t turn into psychosis (lose touch with reality) like mania can, but it’s part of a bipolar diagnosis. You might feel great and get a lot done, but those around you might see changes in your mood and activity levels.

      To get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, you must have had at least one manic or hypomanic experience.

      Signs of manic behavior include:

      • Your mood isn’t comfortable. It might feel good at first, especially after depression. But it quickly becomes erratic and out of control.
      • Your judgment swerves way off. You take extreme risks. You make bad decisions with no thought for what might happen. For instance, you might spend money recklessly or have risky sex.
      • You get bad-tempered and angry.
      • You feel strung-out or edgy.
      • You find it hard to sleep.
      • You feel like your mind is a freeway. You might talk super-fast and hop subjects, or think you can do too many things at once.

      Some episodes can mix mania and depression. For example, you might feel hyper-energetic and full of despair at the same time.

      Bipolar disorder runs in your family.

      The chance that you’ll have bipolar disorder goes up if your parents or brothers or sisters have it. But it doesn’t always happen that way. For example, studies of identical twins show that one twin might have the illness, while the other doesn’t.

      You have another illness such as psychosis, anxiety, ADHD, or a drug or alcohol addiction.

      Some bipolar disorder symptoms are a lot like other conditions. They can be hard to separate and diagnose.

      For example, mania can feature psychotic symptoms. You might think you’re famous or have superpowers. On the flip side, with manic depression, you might think you’ve ruined your life in some dramatic way.

      People with bipolar disorder also can have:

      • Anxiety disorder or ADHD
      • An eating disorder
      • PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder
      • A physical disorder such as diabetes, obesity, migraines, or thyroid or heart disease
      • Substance abuse problems

      How to Get Help

      About 2.6% of the U.S. population have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It usually comes on at about age 25, but it can happen earlier. There are different types, too. Symptoms can happen — or not happen — along a wide spectrum.

      A “life chart” is a good way to track your moods and help your doctor diagnose whether you have bipolar disorder. You’ll record details about your moods, sleep patterns, and events in your life. If you’re on a manic swing, you might feel “up” and capable, but a look at the big picture will show you how a “down” will follow. The info also will give your doctor a window into your day-to-day — even hour-to-hour — life to decide how best to proceed with treatment if needed.

      Special phone apps can help you keep up, too. There are quite a few available to help you track your moods, medications, sleep patterns, and more. One even analyzes how you type on your phone: your rhythm and speed, mistakes, corrections, and other dynamics, but not your content. It then uses this data to gauge your mood and predict bipolar episodes. Just remember that these apps don’t take the place of following a treatment plan under your doctor’s care.

      How to Treat It

      The main ways to treat and manage bipolar disorder include:

      • Medications, like mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and sometimes antidepressants
      • Action plans to educate you about the disorder. These can help you manage it on your own by helping you know when an episode is coming on.
      • Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and family-focused therapy
      • Activities that support your treatment, such as exercise and spiritual practices

      Show Sources

      National Institute of Mental Health: “Bipolar Disorder,” “What is Psychosis?”

      National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Bipolar Disorder.”

      The Medical Journal of Australia: “Diagnosis and Monitoring of Bipolar Disorder in General Practice.”

      University of Illinois at Chicago: “App Developed at UIC to Track Mood, Predict Bipolar Disorder Episodes.”

      International Journal of Bipolar Disorders: “Smartphone-based Objective Monitoring in Bipolar Disorder: Status and Considerations.”

      Neuroscience: “The Genetics of Bipolar Disorder.”

      Journal of Abnormal Psychology: “Progression along the Bipolar Spectrum: A Longitudinal Study of Predictors of Conversion from Bipolar Spectrum Conditions to Bipolar I and II Disorders.”

      • anxiety
      • mental health
      • stress
      • depression

      Unlike humans, dogs can’t verbalize what they are feeling. But even though dogs experience different emotions than we do, experts recognize that mental health problems akin to depression can occur in canines.

      How to Spot Signs of Depression in Dogs

      The symptoms of depression will vary depending on the individual dog and the severity of the problem. There are some key things to look out for, however, including changes in body language during their interactions with people and other pets, decreased appetite, and lethargic behavior.

      Dr. Leslie Sinn runs Behavior Solutions and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) and certified professional dog trainer.

      “The main thing would be a change in normal demeanor,” she says. “What I hear from most of my clients is that their dog is not that willing to engage in activities that previously they seemed to really enjoy.”

      She gives the example of a dog who normally loves to play fetch, but now they may play for one or two rounds then aren’t really that interested.

      Dr. Sinn also lists other signs, including “clingy, needy behavior, and, perhaps, a need to be closer to the owner in general.” Some dogs, however, can go the other way and become excessively withdrawn.

      Ruling Out Pain or an Underlying Medical Condition

      The symptoms of depression are commonly similar to those displayed in a dog suffering from an underlying medical condition or chronic pain. Sometimes these can even be triggers for depression.

      Dr. Sinn always encourages owners to have their dog medically evaluated to rule out any medical problems. “In general, if a dog is slowing down or is reluctant to engage, especially in the absence of some life-changing event, then I would bet huge amounts of money that it is medical or pain-related,” she says.

      Common Causes of Depression in Dogs

      If you suspect your dog is suffering from depression, ask yourself what has changed in their life and environment.

      There are a variety of triggers for depression. Sometimes it’s an obvious thing, but it can also be more subtle changes or a combination of issues that have built up over time.

      “Depression, in animals anyway, is something that we tend to associate with a specific event,” says Dr. Sinn. “It could be the loss of an owner, the loss of a buddy that they have grown up with, or a huge lifestyle change—a big move, or the addition or subtraction of key members of their social group. It tends to be context-specific.”

      She explains that “people should look at their dog’s basic environmental and social circumstances” to understand what may have brought about the changes in their behavior.

      Some common triggers include:

      • Grief while mourning the loss of a human or animal companion.
      • Chronic pain.
      • Trauma, including injury, abuse, or long-term stress.
      • Environmental changes such as a house move, rehoming, or the addition of a new baby or pet to the household. Even things like children going back to school after extended holidays or a change in your work pattern could be factors.
      • Social isolation.
      • Insufficient physical and/or mental stimulation. This is especially true for high-energy, driven, working breeds

      Dr. Sinn explains that some of the most severe cases of depression she has seen are from “dogs coming out of just horrific rescue circumstances—hoarding situations, meat farm dogs, that kind of thing.”

      Dr. Kelly Ballantyne is a board-certified veterinary behaviorist and the leader of Insight Animal Behavior Services, says that serious behavioral issues often result from a combination of genetics, early life experiences, the physical and social environment, and ongoing learning processes. “We regularly meet with experienced dog owners who provide appropriate amounts of exercise, enrichment, play, and training, and still have dogs that suffer from fear, anxiety, and depression.”

      “You could have a very, very anxious dog that has a lot of behavioral suppression,” adds Dr. Sinn. “It really kind of freezes or shuts down and that whole process can lead to depression. The dog doesn’t want to eat, doesn’t want to move, doesn’t want to do much of anything. It doesn’t want to engage and, consequently, removes itself from social interaction.”

      In these severe cases, treating the problem is not typically straightforward.

      How to Treat Depression in Dogs

      As Dr. Sinn points out, dogs are amazingly resilient. If there is a significant event associated with their depression, often some simple environmental and social changes can make a huge difference. She suggests things like “spending some extra time with them, taking them on extra fun walks, playing a little tug, or having a little grooming session.” Usually, with a little time, extra attention, and enjoyable enrichment, your dog will move through their depression without any major difficulty.

      For some dogs, their depression is a less transient, more serious long-term issue, and they will need extra support. Dr. Sinn is keen to reiterate that these dogs have often had a particularly traumatic past, and it is not a surprise that they need extra help.

      Often behavioral guidance from a professional is recommended, and, in some instances, pharmacological support may be beneficial. “We don’t medicate out of convenience for the owner,” says Dr. Sinn. “But if the poor dog is unable to function the majority of the time, then something needs to be done to address the quality of life and welfare of that individual.”

      Dr. Ballantyne explains that pharmaceuticals are very helpful in cases where a dog’s underlying emotional state is interfering with their ability to learn new behaviors or negatively impacting their quality of life. “This is especially true when there are many different types of triggers for the dog’s fear or anxiety, or when the triggers are unavoidable.” She gives the example of a depressed dog who is terrified of storms and lives in an area where storms are frequent for months throughout the year.

      “I think it’s important to acknowledge that pharmaceutical options aren’t the only treatment for dogs suffering from mental illness, but rather just a part of the treatment plan,” points out Dr. Ballantyne. “Often the most effective treatment plans include a combination of pharmaceuticals, careful environmental management, and behavior modification, rather than just one of these modalities.”

      Though a bad mood might feel like depression, they’re really two different things.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      Most everyone goes through bad moods. But when the blues don’t go away, you might wonder if, in fact, you are truly depressed. Because depression has clearly defined symptoms, however, there’s a way to figure out whether you need to seek treatment.

      Depression is diagnosed when a person experiences five or more specific symptoms for more than two weeks, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Those symptoms include feelings of sadness and loss of pleasure in activities you once enjoyed, changes in appetite that cause weight loss or gain, sleeping too little or too much, feeling tired all the time, having difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and feeling angry and irritable. People with depression might also have feelings of worthlessness or guilt, unexplained physical pain like headaches or backaches, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

      “Everyone has bad days, the normal ups and downs of life where you feel better the next day, but depression is ongoing,” says David Hellerstein, MD, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. It’s also common, affecting more than 23 million adult Americans every year, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

      “People who have major depression have it for a lot more than two weeks; usually months or years,” Dr. Hellerstein says. They find it extremely difficult to function. Those with a milder form, known as dysthymic disorder, feel chronically lousy but are typically able to push through their days.

      A bad mood shares many of the same characteristics as depression but moves like a subway ride though the city: Before you know it, it’s over. With depression, however, you’re on a road trip that never seems to end.

      Candy McCarley, 62, of Cincinnati, was one such traveler.

      “I got to the point where I couldn’t even go out of the house,” McCarley says of her depression. She compares the feeling to trying to climb out of a jar of peanut butter. “I couldn’t make any headway, I just kept getting stuck,” she says. “I slept a lot. I cried a lot. I was really not aware of what was going on around me.” A friend who had been treated for depression told McCarley she needed help.

      Is It Depression, or Not?

      Not everyone experiences depression in the same way.

      Women suffering from depression often report feeling sad, while men with depression may be more likely to be irritable and aggressive, according to the Mayo Clinic. Depression in children can include clinginess, worry, and a desire to stay home from school. Teens may get angry, engage in self-harm, and withdraw socially. Older adults may experience memory problems and personality changes.

      Common symptoms across all groups include physical problems like chronic pain and digestive disorders that don’t respond to treatment, according to Mental Health America.

      Depression also can sometimes go from enduring feelings of sadness to a situation that is potentially deadly. Common suicide warning signs include feeling worthless, a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, withdrawal, reckless behaviors, giving away possessions, talking about death, and searching for ways to die by suicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Suicidal people can sometimes appear to be feeling better just before they take their lives.

      If you feel you might be depressed, says Hellerstein, start by making an appointment with your family doctor. “The primary care physicians are the gatekeepers; the first source for seeking treatment,” Hellerstein says.

      For starters, your doctor will want to rule out other conditions with symptoms that can mimic depression.

      “Generally a person for whom a medical condition is the cause of the depression will have some abnormalities on those tests — for instance, abnormal thyroid hormone levels,” says Hellerstein. “At times, there is a hidden medical cause of depression, such as cancer, but that is pretty rare.”

      In addition to checking you physically, your doctor may do a psychological evaluation in which you’re asked about your thoughts and feelings. Although it shouldn’t replace a doctor’s visit, you can also do a test online to help determine if what you’re feeling and experiencing is truly depression.

      If you are depressed, your practitioner may start treatment by prescribing medication, referring you to a therapist or psychiatrist, or both. Though antidepressants generally provide relief in two to four weeks, “if there is no benefit after one month, that medication is probably not going to work,” Hellerstein says. Then, your doctor might try a higher dose or a different medication.

      Today, McCarley is no longer taking an antidepressant but recognizes that feeling good requires getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising, and reaching out to others, particularly when she’s feeling down. She encourages those suffering with depression to seek help and be patient in finding the right course of action.

      “If a medication or treatment doesn’t work, try a different one,” she says. “Don’t give up — there is help out there that works.”

      How to tell if you are depressedWhile most Americans will experience some level of depression in their lives, some will experience an intense and serious depression that requires the help of friends, family, and often a mental health professional.

      The severity of a depressive state will fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including the availability of a support system, treatment options such as a therapist or psychiatrist, emotional coping skills, and a history of successfully navigating previous mental health episodes. However, when depression worsens, suicidal ideations (or thoughts) may develop, and are therefore often seen together. The focus of this article is to help identify common signs and symptoms of suicidal thoughts related to severe depression and how to recognize when to seek help.

      Common depressive symptoms include a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, low energy, changes in sleep and appetite, concentration and focus problems, and changes in libido. When depression worsens, often people will experience hopelessness, a desire to isolate and withdraw, and may begin to have thoughts about how to make the pain (depression) stop. These are symptoms most commonly associated with the onset of suicidal ideations. This is where outside help is needed. The vulnerability experienced with hopelessness and a desire to make the pain stop sometimes leads to irrational actions and decisions. Once this hopelessness manifests as a desire to “go to sleep,” “make the pain go away,” or identifying ways to die and how to obtain the means (guns, pills, etc.), the suicide risk is dramatically heightened.

      Find a Therapist

      Other factors must be considered when determining how soon help should be acquired during a worsening depression. First, if a firearm is in a person’s possession or at least accessible to the person, help should be sought as soon as the depression is apparent. The firearm should be secured by a third party or by law enforcement. Next, any use of recreational drugs or alcohol limits a person’s insight and judgment, making them more impulsive and less likely to consider available resources. If a person is likely to use drugs, help needs to be called before a person becomes intoxicated and possibly makes a dangerous mistake. A previous history of suicide attempts increases a person’s suicide risk; thus, help should be attained immediately if a suicide survivor begins to experience suicidal thoughts.

      Risk Factors

      Numerous risk factors need to be evaluated to determine suicide risk level. Below is a listing of the more serious factors warranting immediate intervention. If any of the following become present in a person’s thoughts or behavior, help should be sought immediately (note this is not a comprehensive list but rather an overview of the more common risk factors):

      • Decreased or no sleep. Without adequate restorative sleep, a person’s insight and judgment become significantly affected.
      • Developing a suicide plan. A person moves thoughts into an action plan.
      • Identifying ways to access suicide means or storing means (pills, guns, etc.).
      • Giving away personal items of value and/or getting one’s affairs in order with the anticipation of dying.
      • Any psychotic symptom such as auditory or visual hallucinations.
      • Hopelessness, seeing no hope for the future.
      • Intent to die.
      • History of mental health treatment in the past, especially a history of suicide attempts.
      • Family history of a completed suicide.
      • Limited or absent support system (few or no friends or family to call for help)
      • Serious/chronic medical condition(s).
      • Withdrawing from sources of support, such as family, work, or friends.
      • Happiness immediately after feeling severely depressed: This may suggest a person has resolved to die and is now hopeful for their plan.
      • Impulsive and/or high risk taking or careless behavior, different from the person’s normal functioning.

      Treatment Options

      Depression and thoughts of suicide are serious, but they are also highly treatable. The sooner a person elicits help from friends, family, or a compassionate mental health professional, the sooner they may be able to gain healthier perspectives and insight into ways they can work to handle their current state. Help may be able to instill hope and help a person begin the process of returning to a happier and stable state.

      It is important to know some available resources for those experiencing suicidal ideation. First, call 911 immediately if a person is expressing they may no longer be able to remain safe on their own. Second, if safety permits, a person can be taken by friends or family to any hospital emergency department, where the person will receive a comprehensive evaluation and possible placement inside a mental health facility. Third, many therapists have after-hours support available, but this should be used only if there is not an imminent threat to personal safety. Fourth, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours, seven days a week) can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, where a trained person will listen and help a person decide the best route for help. And lastly, many communities have local-based suicide-prevention crisis lines and clinics. Check with your local mental health department to see what resources are available.

      In honor of World Mental Health Day, let’s talk mental health solutions.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      October 10th was World Mental Health Day. I didn’t write about it yesterday because I was traveling, but I don’t want to skip over such an important day. 18.5 percent of American Adults suffer from some type of mental illness every year. That’s 43.8 million people or almost 1 in five. Take a look around your office. There’s a good chance that there are several people in your office who have some sort of mental illness right now and you’re not even aware. Of those, over 6 million are suffering from depression.

      I’m one of those people. I have anxiety and depression which is (thankfully) well managed by medication. The downside? Medication makes me fat. But, since my choices are to be fat and happy or thin and an anxious depressed mess, I’ll take the plus size clothing, thanks. You wouldn’t know that I suffer from depression if you met me, by the way, even before I was on medication because I’m good at putting on a happy face. And chances are, there is someone at your office, or maybe you, who is also good at getting through life when she feels rotten.

      If you’re depressed, you still have to go to work and earn money. It’s how it is. Plus, you need that health insurance more than ever! Some of the best tips I’ve ever read on functioning with depression come from Jennifer P, also known as, Captain Awkward in her 2013 article, “How to Tighten Your Game When You’re Depressed.” I strongly recommend reading the whole thing, but here are some of her ideas:

      I don’t know how to tell you how to feel normal again or get back to ‘normal.’ I don’t know what normal is for you. I don’t know what you do next, or what you want to do.

      But I do speak “corporate boss” and I can help you (and maybe others who are in your same shoes) keep your job until you decide you don’t want it anymore, and if you can’t keep this one maybe this will help you keep the next one.

      A lot of this stuff is literally THE hardest stuff to do when you’re feeling down. Because the principle behind this is antithetical to who we probably are as people, seeking genuine connections and genuine expressions of ourselves. The operating principle is: Appearances count at work. Sometimes more than the actual work does.

      Captain Awkward is 100 percent right on all of this. Everything is harder to do when you’re depressed and appearances do count. You know how I talk about how managers should judge you based on achievements rather than butt-in-seat time? They should. But, they don’t. If you’re on time and appear to be working, that may be more helpful to your career than slouching in late and doing a fantastic job. Seriously. Responding to an email with, “I’ll look into that and get back to you,” makes you look better than not responding at all, even though you’ve done the same amount of work both ways.

      Jennifer described a situation where she had to fire an employee who suffered from depression. It was horrible for Jennifer and much worse for the employee, but businesses need to function and if you’re not functioning at all, they have to fire you. She tells the experience like this:

      The kicker was, *I* had to let her go.

      I will never forget it, because when I fired her she got up without a word and turned and walked out of the office, slamming the door behind her.

      Unfortunately, outside it had started pouring, and she had left her umbrella in my office, so 5 minutes later, there she was, drenched to the skin, coming back from her umbrella. Which I handed to her, and then she slammed the door again.

      I don’t tell you this because I want you to feel bad for me. Things were definitely, obviously, MUCH worse for her that day.

      But I can tell you what would have made a difference in keeping her employed that doesn’t have to do with her intelligence or capability or qualifications:

      • Showing up on time every day.
      • Being showered and wearing clean clothes.
      • Being honest and up front if she couldn’t complete things, updating us as to the status of tasks.
      • Leaving her work environment (desk, computer files) in a state where if she couldn’t make it we could easily figure out where she was in a project.
      • Being present and paying attention during conversations.
      • Not bursting into tears every time her work needed critique or adjustment. Hard to control sometimes, I know! But “Can you use consistent naming conventions when you save files to the servers” doesn’t mean “EVERYONE HATES YOU.”

      We could have worked up to actual quality work output from there. This would have communicated “I am trying as hard as I can, and things will get better if you hang in with me a little longer.” But without those basic things, the theoretical quality of work didn’t matter – work had stopped.

      Jennifer acknowledges, and I agree with her, that these things that would have helped this employee are hard. So very hard. But, if you want to save your job, you have to do these things.

      Ask for Help

      If the company you work for has 15 or more employees, then you’re covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) from day one. (Well, actually, from your interview.) This means that if your depression or other mental illness qualifies as a disability, your company is required to provide a “reasonable accommodation” for you–but only if you ask. (Yes, there have been some court cases where the employee didn’t ask, and the court determined the employer should have known, but be smart and ask.)

      The company isn’t required to give you whatever accommodation you ask for, but they are required to engage in an “interactive processes” to determine a reasonable accommodation that will work. So you may say, “I need to work part-time,” and they may say, “that isn’t reasonable. How about you work from home 50 percent instead?” Going back and forth isn’t bad. It’s part of the process.

      If you haven’t seen your doctor, go to the doctor. Depression screenings are free under the Affordable Care Act, so get screened. If you don’t have a therapist, call your Employee Assistance Program and ask for a referral or ask your doctor for a referral. Often, the first visit is free under your company’s EAP. If you don’t have time to go to therapy, look into one of the new online therapy services. You can often find a counselor that can meet with you via video or phone conference at a time convenient to you–even if that is 10:00 at night.

      Whatever you do, don’t just assume it will get better. And don’t assume you’re a failure. You’re not. Getting help can also be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do, and if you can’t bring yourself to make a doctor’s or therapy appointment, ask a friend or family member to make the call for you. You’re not alone. Ever.

      Depression often manifests differently in the elderly. Know the symptoms and how treatment can help.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      Save this to read later.

      You’d think it would be easy to detect depression in an older person — after all, many signs of sadness, including tears and lethargy, are visible.

      But depression, like many other ailments, often manifests differently in the elderly compared with younger people. For example, an older person who is depressed doesn’t necessarily feel sad but may complain of lack of energy and attribute symptoms to age. And that can make it trickier for doctors, loved ones, and older people themselves to spot depression. The fact that certain medications and medical illnesses can bring on depression — or mimic it — also complicates matters, making it tough to know when to get crucial help.

      “When an older person has untreated depression, he or she may lose interest in activities that previously held their interest, and retreat from social interaction and physical activities, which may eventually lead to loss of function,” says Dr. Ronald D. Adelman, co-chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “That’s one reason it’s important not to brush off any changes in behavior as simply part of ‘old age.’”

      While depression in older adults is less common than in younger adults, says Dr. Adelman, the problem is, when it is present, even doctors are likely to overlook it. A study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that primary care physicians spend very little time discussing mental health with their older patients, and are unlikely to refer them to a mental health expert even if they are showing classic signs of depression.

      Here’s what you need to know, whether you love an older individual or happen to be one.

      Be Aware of Symptoms

      With an untreated depression, older people may show a loss of concentration and other cognitive changes — symptoms that may be erroneously attributed to dementia, according to Dr. Adelman, the Emilie Roy Corey Professor of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Weill Cornell Medicine.

      What’s more, older people are apt to suffer from one or more chronic illnesses, some of which can cause depression. For instance, many people with Parkinson’s disease develop depression.

      Along with cognitive symptoms, experiencing a depressed mood, loss of pleasure in activities, significant weight loss or gain, decrease or increase in appetite, sleeping too much or too little, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt calls for a trip to the doctor for a depression screening and medical exam, Dr. Adelman says.

      Needless to say, if an individual has recurrent thoughts of death or suicide or attempts suicide, this calls for an emergency psychiatric evaluation.

      “Treatment depends on the person having a comprehensive evaluation,” says Dr. Granieri, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “Interventions depend on whether the signs or symptoms are true depression only, on the type of depression, or if there is depression mixed with other disorders. The interventions may include medications, talk therapy, socialization or change in social environment, optimizing care of other physical disorders, or changing medications for other conditions that the person may already be on.”

      “With older adults, many conditions can either mimic depression or exacerbate it, so it is necessary to have an expert evaluate for depression.”

      Understand the Stigma

      One issue that can make older people reluctant to get treatment for depression — or make it tough for those who love them to coax them to go to a doctor — is the belief that getting treatment for depression is a sign of weakness or lack of moral fiber.

      “For patients over 85, in particular, there tends to be a lot of stigma associated with depression. Often, patients have the sense that if they’re depressed, it means they don’t have the backbone that they used to have,” says Dr. Adelman. “One thing we try to do at the Irving Sherwood Wright Center on Aging (part of NewYork-Presbyterian’s Ambulatory Care Network) is make it clear that depression is a disease just like high blood pressure — it’s not something the patient is responsible for,” he explains. “And it requires aggressive treatment. If you don’t treat it, it can cause prolonged suffering and significant loss of function.”

      “As part of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Aging at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, we provide comprehensive assessment and care for older adults — medical, functional, cognitive, and psychosocial care — and that includes looking out for signs of depression,” says Dr. Granieri.

      The good news is that treatment for depression, whether medication, therapy, or a combination of both, can be just as effective in older people as in younger people.

      “Once depression is treated, cognitive abilities can come right back, as well as quality of life,” says Dr. Adelman. “One of the key principles in geriatric medicine is that you have to look at the person as a whole, rather than merely trying to diagnose a disease. Because geriatricians ask older people about a wide range of medical issues, psychological issues, social issues, and advance care planning — they are always on the lookout for depression.”

      For more information about joining a treatment study, visit here. For other services, visit here.

      How to Make Dating Work for You if You Struggle With Depression

      Depression is a thief. It steals into people’s lives quietly, without much fanfare, and saps them of joy. It makes it hard to get excited about things, hard to care about your passions, hard to do pretty much anything.

      It’s also an affliction that is rarely well-understood — often, people mistake it for simple sadness, or worse, laziness, without realizing that it’s not really like either. It’s not something you can just “get over” and it’s not something that’ll vanish if you go for a walk or hang out with some old friends.

      If depression is a reality in your life, it can be tough to know how to succeed at all manner of things many people take for granted, but what about dating? How can you muster the energy to go on dates with new people, strangers who you imagine might not understand what it means to be depressed, who you fear might misread signals or back off if you tell them about your diagnosis too early on?

      Thankfully, it’s far from impossible for people who struggle with depression to date around casually or wind up in awesome relationships. Check out these tips for proof:

      1. How Depression Can Impact Your Love Life

      As something that makes it hard for people to feel the full breadth and depth of human joy, depression is especially pernicious when it comes to relationships, since romantic love is supposed to be one of the most exhilarating feelings we feel. That can make it hard for a partner to understand your actions and emotions, unfortunately.

      “Depression may impact your relationship as it reduces general feelings of wellbeing, as well as overall energy,” says Lindsey Pratt, LMHC, a therapist in NYC who specializes in relationship issues. “If you struggle with depression, you may notice that it prevents you from feeling excitement over special moments with your partner, that you have trouble finding energy to spend time with that person, or that your ability to imagine a happy future with your partner feels limited.”

      Dr. Paulette Sherman, a psychologist and author of Dating From the Inside Out and the upcoming book Facebook Dating: From 1st Date to Soulmate, agrees, noting that, “Depression can affect your relationship because sometimes depressed people want to stay in bed, they aren’t interested in having fun, may have less energy or can cry a lot or have negative thinking. This may feel like a drag to the other person and they need to understand that it is a condition that may require treatment, not just the other person having a bad attitude.”

      2. Tips For Online Dating When You Have Depression

      One thing that’s important to remember is that it’s OK for you to struggle a little bit with dating. The truth is, even very neurotypical people can struggle with some aspects of dating, and two people trying to decide if they like each other is rarely a smooth process regardless of the mental health of either partner.

      Instead, recognize your own limitations and don’t get too frustrated with yourself. As Pratt says, “If you struggle with depression and are online dating, try to practice patience and compassion with yourself that your speed in replying or interacting with potential dates may be limited. Battling depression can be physically and emotionally taxing, so make sure you’re going at your own pace and being kind with yourself in the process.”

      That being said, there can be value in pushing yourself a little bit and trying not to let your depression rob you of experiences, notes Dr. Sherman. “If you are depressed, realize that you may tend to think negatively and to make things seem worse than they are. You may feel disconnected and choose to isolate at times,” she says.

      “You may need to push yourself to put yourself out there despite how you are feeling, because you know it is healthy to take action to forge new connections, to have fun and to remain hopeful that something good could come from your efforts.”

      3. Tips For Going On Dates When You Have Depression

      The prospect of getting out of the house and meeting up with a new person might seem daunting if you’re in the middle of a depressive episode or simply feeling overwhelmed by things.

      Here, your knowledge of yourself and how your depression works will come in handy, suggests Pratt. “It may be helpful to identify triggers for your depression and schedule in-person dates around them, such as having most energy in the morning and utilizing an app like Coffee Meets Bagel rather than Tinder,” she says.

      “Ultimately, you know yourself and your depression best, so try to incorporate dating in a way where you can allow flexibility and self-compassion to be a part of the process. Dating and depression can both be very challenging, so it’s important to be patient with yourself.”

      As for being on the date itself, it might be useful to try your best to get outside of your own head and not get wound up in your own thoughts.

      “When you go on dates, attempt to be present and to leave negative thinking, judgments and expectations behind during that time,” says Dr. Sherman. “You can focus on getting to know your date and asking questions and finding things to appreciate on the date. Try to focus on what there is to enjoy and what you appreciate about your experience.”

      4. Tips For Talking To A New Partner About Your Depression

      If you’re not comfortable disclosing it up front, which is totally understandable, it it something you should be able to talk about after a little bit of time has gone by in your new relationship.

      “It is good to have a foundation of honesty in your relationship, but you’ll need to determine the best time to discuss your depression with a date. Often this conversation happens a month or two into dating,” says Dr. Sherman.

      “However, if you think a relationship has potential it can also be good to give that person some context about your issues a month or so into dating so that they don’t personalize it if you have a bout of depression.”

      Dr. Sherman suggests saying some version of the following to your new partner, if you’re not sure how to go about starting the conversation:

      ‘Sometimes I experience social anxiety but I am being treated for it. I take meds and see someone to talk [weekly or monthly]. I function well but I wanted to be honest with you and if you see that I am feeling a bit off one day I wanted you to know that it wasn’t you and for you to have a context for it. I have my own tools to deal with it so you don’t have to do anything specific. Let me know if you have any questions for me about it though.’

      That kind of honest, straightforward disclosure can go a long way toward simplifying the process of talking about your depression.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      Do I have depression, or am I lazy? That is a worry that plagues many people experiencing depression symptoms. It can make people afraid to see a doctor or therapist for help. No one wants to be formally accused of being lazy, to be told to just bite the bullet and get on with their lives. Here’s how to tell the difference between depression and laziness.

      Depression or Lazy?

      Depression and laziness can look similar at a quick glance, but they are very different experiences. This brief contrast highlights what each one is.

      • A trait
      • Personality-based
      • Often limited to specific circumstances
      • A choice

      Laziness can be used as a description to explain what someone is like. Of course, having the trait of laziness doesn’t necessarily make someone completely idle and unmotivated in every circumstance of their lives. Everyone feels lazy sometimes, and those times can be mentally healthy when we use them to destress and recharge.

      Depression is different. Even though our society tends to use the term “depressed” freely to describe people, no one is depressed at their core. Just as illnesses like diabetes aren’t what someone is like, nor is depression. Contrast the above description of laziness with this depiction of depression.

      • An illness
      • Brain-based
      • All-encompassing
      • Not a choice

      Depression and the Illusion of Laziness

      Part of the stigma around depression is that people living with it are lazy. Many of the symptoms of depression can give the illusion of laziness to those who don’t understand depression. (Once people learn about what depression is and what it does to people, they usually stop equating the illness with the trait).

      Depression makes it nearly impossible to start, engage in, and/or complete even simple tasks. Getting out of bed can be so exhausting that someone needs to fall right back into it. This means that working at any job can become impossible. Sometimes people with severe depression have to quit working and receive unemployment benefits. This isn’t laziness. It’s depression lethargy.

      If you have any of these depression effects or symptoms and do not meet the criteria for laziness delineated above, you might be experiencing depression rather than laziness:

      • Sleeping too much
      • Crushing fatigue despite sleep
      • Difficulty with self-care such as showering
      • Loss of interest in activities or people you once enjoyed
      • Taking longer to complete ordinary tasks
      • Difficulty starting anything because of fatigue
      • Low self-esteem

      Exhaustion Points to Depression, Not Laziness

      If you’re concerned about whether you’re experiencing depression or laziness, take a look at your energy levels. Are you always tired? Does your fatigue make you feel heavy? Are you lethargic? Does it slow you down? “Yes” answers point to depression.

      Researchers Ghanean et al. found that over 90 percent of people with depression suffer from fatigue. Exhaustion makes people unable to do certain things. Laziness, in contrast, makes people unwilling to do things.

      Depression causes fatigue by negatively affecting certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Hormones associated with alertness and the reward system, for example, impact energy levels. Other causes of depression fatigue are sleep problems—both too much and too little sleep cause fatigue—a diet high in processed foods and low in nutrients, stress, and even depression medications.

      Depression Isn’t Laziness

      Reminding yourself of this fact can help you stop criticizing yourself and taking the stigma around laziness to heart. Reframe your notion of productivity, work, or whatever concept is your opposite of laziness—each day, or parts of each day, create one small goal. Do that one little thing and be proud that you did it. Doing a tiny act despite having an illness takes effort and strength. That’s not laziness.

      Know that there is no shame in depression. A good doctor will know the difference between depression and laziness and will start to help you heal. Starting with a medical doctor is a good idea so they can rule out other causes of your fatigue and inability to do things. Then, a therapist can work with you to overcome depression and get your motivation back. It’s possible because depression, an illness, isn’t laziness, a trait.

      On Assignment For HuffPost

      It’s been one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Explore HuffPost’s Bent Not Broken project to learn how the coronavirus has disrupted our mental health, and how to manage our well-being moving forward.

      We’ve all witnessed the overly simplified depiction of a person with depression as someone who is perpetually mopey, sad and crying, their despair blatant and on display for all to witness. That is not reality.

      The truth is that symptoms for depression vary widely, which is why someone can be posting nonstop selfies on Instagram and simultaneously be in the throes of a major depressive episode , no apparent signs of sadness in sight. Meanwhile, another person may exhibit signs of depression by withdrawing from normal activities or sleeping too much, all while showing no outward signs of sadness.

      The coronavirus pandemic has led to mental health issues, including depression, among more people. But if you’ve never experienced the condition before, it might be hard to identify if you think it mostly includes feeling sad.

      We spoke with a couple of mental health experts to help highlight signs that could indicate depression ― even if sadness isn’t one of them.

      You exhibit behaviors that may be associated with ‘pandemic fatigue’

      With COVID-19 completely upending our daily lives, it can be easy to dismiss depression as a side effect of dealing with pandemic pressures. Ignoring social distancing measures, going lax on mask ordinances, or changing your punctuality habits or appearance can all be indicators that you’re depressed and not just tired of the pandemic restrictions.

      “A lot of us are fatigued by the pandemic and how long it’s been,” said Zamira Castro, a licensed psychologist based in Florida. “There’s pandemic fatigue, and then there’s carelessness or complete disregard for your well-being. That could be a slippery slope. Someone in your life who’s loosening their COVID restrictions, you may wonder is this because they’re really tired and they’re trying to manage their risks and play with what they can or can’t, or they don’t [really care] about themselves.”

      Your appetite drastically changes

      You may either be eating more than usual or, more commonly, have no appetite at all.

      “It’s an easy [sign] to overlook because we live in a society that values diet culture and values restriction as a sign of control and discipline,” Castro said . “That says something good about your character if you’re not gorging on food. I think that it can be easily missed and it can be praised as that person somehow has it together, and they’re doing well.”

      But dietary changes depend on the individual. “It plays out differently because of our temperaments and preferred ways of coping,” Castro added. “If you have more depletion of serotonin levels, then you may be someone who is more inclined to seek comfort in food.”

      How to tell if you are depressed

      You’re irritable and aggressive

      Anger can be a symptom of depression, especially for men, but it’s often not seen as one. Castro said societal and cultural norms play a huge role in how depression can appear, particularly when it comes to displays of aggression or irritability.

      “One of the arguments for that is that men are socialized to be comfortable with aggression . whereas women are typically socialized to not be comfortable with aggression,” she said, adding that women’s behavior “may tend to reflect the more stereotypical expectations such as sadness or crying.”

      Your social habits have subtly changed

      Changes in social habits may not be as easily noticed ― especially in a pandemic when we’re not often seeing or speaking to people the way we were when things were “normal.”

      “ The withdrawal that we tend to be more alert to or sensitive to is when the person completely shuts themselves away in their room or doesn’t take calls consistently, but there are more subtle signs of [depression] emerging,” Castro said.

      “If you’re someone who tends to call your mom every day, and all of a sudden you’re not, that may be a sign because that could be the beginning of what we call the prodromal phase,” Castro added, which is the period between the initial onset of symptoms and the full development of the condition. “It could be that you’re starting to get depressed when you start to withdraw from others.”

      You experience energy level changes that impact your self-care habits

      Are you forgoing your beloved skin care routine more often? Have you lost interest in your weekly video game nights?

      “Depression is a loss of vitality, your energy, your pulses, [when] all of that is depressed . the lights have been dimmed,” Castro said. “If you’re someone who’s usually very vivacious, and you have energy and verve, you’ll start having less of that. The signs of that are how you care for yourself, how you care for your space. Do you make time for yourself ?”

      If the answer is no, you might want to take a hard (but compassionate!) look at your mental state.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      You work a lot

      There’s a fine line between being a workaholic and someone who uses work to mask mental health struggles.

      “We also live in a society that values productivity, outcome and deliverables, and essentially doing,” Castro said. “Our culture doesn’t value being as much, and so I think another sign that might get overlooked is someone working a lot of hours. When you are overscheduling yourself, it’s a way of filling up your life so that there isn’t room for other signs [of depression] or things that you may not want to think or feel.”

      You experience extended bouts of stress

      “Some amount of stress is normal and can lead to productivity,” said Catherine Muyeba, a psychiatrist based in England. “However, the pervasive mental and emotional pressure can lead to chronic stress that can negatively impact one’s life. It can affect concentration, disrupt sleep, reduce ability to cope with daily challenges and have a detrimental impact on health leading to high blood pressure and even heart attacks.”

      Muyeba also noted that there’s a difference between depression and stress. “Stress is often triggered by life events and often resolves when the events subside,” she explained. “ Depression can start without an obvious trigger or link to events from the past.” (Or it can stem from prolonged exposure to a harmful environment for your mental health. Like, say, a pandemic.)

      Your libido is low

      It’s perfectly normal for everyone’s desire to wax and wane, and it’s not always a sign of something serious. But if your libido has really plummeted compared to normal, it could be an indication that you’re dealing with something other than a dry spell.

      According to experts at Johns Hopkins Women’s Moods Disorders Center , a lowered libido is one of the key symptoms doctors look for when diagnosing major depressive episodes.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      We’re hearing a lot about depression. A number of celebrities and other high-profile figures have recently admitted that they’ve suffered or are suffering from this crippling disorder.

      This isn’t surprising. Depression is now the most common psychological problem in the Western world, and rates are rising fast. Fortunately, treatment in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and, for more severe cases, CBT in conjunction with antidepressant medication, is highly effective – and the sooner treatment starts, the better the outcome.

      But how can you tell the difference between feeling low and the beginning of true depression? Here are three questions that will help you decide whether your mood is temporary or that you may be suffering from full-blown clinical depression.

      First, do your symptoms represent a substantial change from the way you usually feel? In other words, if you’re usually an active person who loves sports, have you lost interest in all sporting activities? If you normally love to socialise, do you now avoid seeing even good friends? There are no absolute levels of mood or behaviour that define depression. Instead, you need to look out for any big changes in the way you generally think and feel.

      Second, are the changes you’ve noted constant and unremitting? For example, are you feeling exhausted or tearful almost all the time, or only, say, at weekends? Changes that are constant and have continued for more than two weeks suggest clinical depression.

      Third, are the distressing changes you’ve noted so severe that they’re getting in the way of your ability to carry out regular daily activities and to do the things you normally enjoy?

      You need to take consider specific symptoms as well. The two that clinicians look for first when diagnosing depression are changes in mood and outlook – in particular, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and a marked loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities, particularly those you previously enjoyed.

      There are other important symptoms as well, and at least five of them – including the constant low mood and/or loss of interest mentioned above – are considered necessary for a diagnosis. One common sign of depression is a change in appetite or weight even though you’re not dieting. This can manifest itself as either a decrease or a significant increase.

      Look out, too, for a change in sleeping habits, either being unable to sleep or sleeping excessively.

      A change in the way you move about is also a symptom – it might be constant restlessness or a marked slowing down.

      An inability to concentrate or make decisions is a typical sign, as is continual fatigue and/or loss of energy. A sense of worthlessness or excessive guilt is another symptom – only, though, if you feel this way much more so than others would consider reasonable.

      Based on this information, if you think you’re suffering from depression, see your GP as soon as possible. Treatment for this disorder is highly effective, and the relief will be incredibly welcome.

      Author

      Professor of Affective Neuroscience, University of East London

      Disclosure statement

      Cynthia Fu has received funding from the MRC, Wellcome Trust, Brain and Behavior (NARSAD) Foundation, HEFCE, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly.

      Partners

      University of East London provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

      We currently diagnose depression based on what individuals tell us about their feelings – or those of their loved ones. People with depression usually describe feeling sad or say they are unable to enjoy the things they used to. But in many cases they don’t actually realise that they are clinically depressed – or feel uncomfortable talking to a health professional about it.

      Such cases pose an important problem as untreated depression can hugely interfere with someone’s life, significantly increasing the risk of suicide. Currently, it is difficult to help people who are not able or willing to communicate how they feel, as there are no biological markers for the condition. But we have managed to identify a network of brain regions that is affected in people with depression – raising hope that brain scans could soon be used to diagnose it.

      Depression has been recognised as an illness for centuries and was initially called melancholia – then believed to be caused by an excess of “black bile”. We now recognise that there are genetic as well as environmental factors that increase the risk of depression. For example, it occurs more frequently in certain families and in children who have suffered from abuse. We are also beginning to identify genes that are associated with the development of depression.

      There are several physical symptoms of depression, including a reduction in appetite and weight loss. But the trouble is that these could be caused by a variety of conditions. Also, people can be affected in different ways – some may notice an increase rather than a decrease in appetite, for example.

      Problems with sleep are also common. Many people wake up in the middle of the night and then have trouble getting back to sleep. Others may be sleeping more than they usually do. Further symptoms include losing interest in doing things, a reduction in libido, a lack of energy and finding it difficult to concentrate. Some people start over-thinking things, feeling guilty or even begin to wish they were dead.

      While we have all experienced feeling low at some point in our lives, a distinct feature of depression is how long these symptoms continue for and how bad they can become. They are often experienced as unremitting.

      The depressed brain

      We have been studying the brain regions affected by depression for some time. For example, we have already identified widespread reductions in brain tissue known as grey matter in the limbic lobe (supporting functions including emotion, behaviour and motivation) and prefrontal regions (involved in planning complex cognitive behaviour and decision making) in depressed people.

      Most previous research has looked at overall differences between groups of people with depression and groups of healthy volunteers. We did something different. We identified the pattern of brain regions that is most commonly found in our group of patients with depression. We then asked whether the same pattern could be found in another person and whether it would indicate that they were also suffering from depression.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      To do this, we applied a form of analysis called machine learning, using algorithms developed from statistical learning theory and artificial intelligence. It works by recognising patterns in data and learning from these patterns to make predictions about new data sets. The data came from structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (which use strong magnetic fields map the location of water and fat in the body) in 23 adults with major depressive disorder and 20 matched healthy individuals.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      We found that there is a widespread network of brain regions which includes specific density variations in both grey and white matter in patients with depression. These extend from the prefrontal areas of the brain to the parietal lobes (which integrate sensory information), and include occipital (involved in visual processing) and cerebellar (centre for motor control) regions. We were able to match the exact same pattern of brain regions in other people who were also experiencing depression.

      The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, tells us that there is an underlying brain structure in depression and that we may be able to use this information to help us to make a diagnosis.

      We also looked at whether we could use the same pattern of regions in individuals with different ethnicity. This is because there is some evidence that people with different ethnicity can demonstrate distinct neural responses in particular situations. But we found that the same pattern of regions appears to underlie depression in individuals with different ethnic backgrounds – adding further hope that we have indeed found a true biological marker for depression.

      We also looked at whether we could predict if someone’s depression would respond to an antidepressant medication or to a talking therapy. Although we have guidelines about how to start particular therapies, we are not able to say, for a specific patient, how likely it is that the therapy will help their depression. But we found that there are specific patterns of brain regions which distinguish how well someone’s depression will improve when treated with antidepressant medication or with a talking therapy.

      The pattern of regions that indicated whether a patient would experience a good response to pharmacological treatment included a greater density of grey matter in the areas that, among other things, help link behavioural outcomes to motivation. However, participants who were at risk of having symptoms that resisted treatment with medication instead would have a greater grey matter density in areas of the brain involved in evaluating reward. Based on this pattern, we were able to say that there was at least an 80% likelihood that a certain patient would respond to antidepressant medication, and in some cases even higher.

      The scan itself took about ten minutes. Although promising, MRI scanners are currently not widely available, and not everyone can have an MRI scan – for example, those fitted with a pacemaker. In order for this to be used in day-to-day clinical care, we would also need to distinguish the pattern of brain regions that is specific for depression from other disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which could show distinct networks of brain regions.

      But the good news is that the study is supported by other research which has similarly found that structural MRI scans could be diagnostic for depression. The next step is to replicate and generalise these specific findings.

      How to tell if you are depressed

      Last update: 04 May, 2022

      The brain is a magnificent organ that we’re still learning a lot of things about. For example, scientists are still discovering how certain emotions affect the brain.

      Depression is one of them.

      The truth is that there will be times that you are depressed or sad over the course of your life, as well as personal events that will test you.

      Sadness is a basic human emotion, just like happiness, fear, or anger. Experiencing it means that your brain is acting differently and producing a series of effects at the same time that you’re not always conscious of. You may feel hungrier or more tired, try to search for solitude, or cry more.

      You might be interested in learning the purpose of all of these changes in your body. This way, you can better know how you can face sadness the healthy way in order to get out of this situation as soon as possible. As a result, you can prevent a more serious illness, like clinical depression.

      In this article, we’ll take a look at just that.

      What Happens to Your Brain When You Are Depressed

      Believe it or not, sadness is one of the emotions that has the biggest impact on your metabolism.

      But what does that mean?

      It means that there are many changes that your body and mind undergo from external problems, whether they are losses, disappointments, or choices.

      Next, we’ll look at every one of these aspects that happens in your brain.

      Can You Overcome Sadness with Natural Foods?

      The Importance of Empathy

      The brain has various defense mechanisms for handling sadness. After all, this is one of the most recognizable emotion in humans. When you see someone, you immediately know if they’re suffering from it or not. In other words, you will develop empathy for them.

      This dimension allows you to support people that are sad. Everyone knows how helpful it is to have friends or family members who support us.

      It is interesting to note that empathy tends to be more developed in women.

      Your Brain Needs More Energy: Glucose

      When you’re suffering from depression, your brain is incredibly active. It may seem strange, but scientific studies say that a depressed brain activates many parts of the brain.

      It’s easy to understand. When you’re depressed, you remember, think, suffer and reason in search of solutions and new alternatives. It’s also harder to sleep because you’re thinking about so many different things. Your hippocampus is therefore active, which is the front part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex). In addition, the anterior cingulate cortex and the temporal lobes are more active.

      You also have to keep in mind that your brain uses almost 20% of your energy.

      However, when you’re depressed, it needs even more, with glucose being the main need. This causes you to feel more hungry and to seek sweet things, for example. Sometimes, this is the reason why many gain weight when they’re sad or depressed.

      The Essential Need to Cry

      Periods of sadness mean the accumulation of a large amount of tension in your body.

      Tears have a biological function of hydrating the eyes on their own. However, you should differentiate them from emotional or crying tears, which are also essential for your health.

      The brain accumulates too much tension and needs to release this anxiety. Thus, tears are the best way to relieve this. Afterwards, endorphins are released that will make you feel better and more relaxed. We therefore recommend that you don’t suppress crying when you need to.

      Avoid Harmful Situations and Live and Learn

      A sad brain generates less serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with motivation. If you’re unable to move on from a period of sadness by making new decisions and accepting what happened, this deficit in serotonin could cause you to suffer from illnesses like depression.

      However, to overcome this, you must be strong and find new resources to move on in these times of self-reflection.

      What are the Benefits of Acupuncture?

      Depression encourages you to live and learn. Life is never easy, but overcoming sadness and depression helps you to become stronger and lead a more fulfilling life.

      If you feel depressed, alone, or are having a problem you can’t solve, you need to reach out for help and support. Talk to a parent or to another trusted adult in your life, like a school counselor, teacher, pastor, or coach. Let them know what you’re going through.

      What if I Don’t Know What to Say?

      Don’t wait to talk just because you’re not sure what to say. You can keep it simple. You can start just by saying, “Got a minute? I need to talk.” Then say what’s on your mind. For example, “I’ve been feeling down a lot lately. I think I should talk to you about it.” The person you’re talking to might ask you to tell them more. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get started talking.

      How Can Talking to a Parent Help?

      It can feel like a big relief to have someone listen, hear you out, and show they care. Talking together can help you feel more hopeful. It lets you know you’re not alone. Someone believes in you and has your back.

      Sometimes, a parent can help you see another angle to a problem you’re dealing with. They can give good advice. When you feel their support, it’s easier to think of ways to help yourself, too.

      What if I Need More Help?

      Sometimes talking to a parent is all you need to start feeling better. Sometimes you need more help. That’s OK, too.

      If you are having a sad or bad mood that lasts more than a week or two, let your parent know. Ask them to set up a health visit to check for depression. Your doctor can ask you a few questions or have you fill out a questionnaire that has questions about depression.

      Sometimes it might be helpful to talk with a therapist, especially if you have had these feelings for a long time. Your parent can set this up for you. The information you share with your therapist will be kept between the two of you, unless your therapist is worried about your safety.

      How Else Can Parents Help?

      Even when you see a therapist, parents can still help in lots of ways. Talk with your parents about what you want their help with. Here are some of the things they can do. You might think of other things that aren’t on this list. But this list can give you and your parent some ideas.

      • help you practice skills you learn in therapy
      • remind you that they love and believe in you
      • let you know they see the good in you, and are proud of you
      • keep expecting good things from you
      • talk through problems with you
      • ask you about good things that happen in your day
      • help with homework or projects you’re having trouble with, or get you a tutor
      • hold you to your responsibilities at home and at school
      • help you get enough exercise, sleep, and healthy food
      • help you limit the time you spend on screens and social media
      • help you wake up in the morning at the right time, but do it in a friendly way
      • do things with you that you both enjoy — walk, play a sport or game, watch a movie, do a craft, or cook

      These things may seem simple, but they add up. They start to change the way you think and feel. They can lift your mood, and help you think better about yourself. They can help you and your parent feel close. Everything you try and do to help yourself feel better counts. It’s worth the time you spend doing it.

      How to tell if you are depressed

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      Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Helen Keller

      How can you hold tight to that feeling of hope when you are overwhelmed?

      Are hope and faith for the future the basis for your personal happiness?

      Feeling like there is no hope is one of the most challenging emotions to manage.

      After all, why would you even try when you feel there is no hope?

      Finding hope when it seems like there’s none to be found can be tricky, but it is possible.

      The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof. Barbara Kingsolver

      All of us have challenges at times, and we all have moments when there doesn’t appear to be a way out. It is there though, we just need the courage and faith to walk through our wilderness and find our meadow.

      When you are feeling in a low funk, try these strategies to raise your vibes:

      1. Consider all the amazing things you’ve done in your life. Regardless of what you’re facing, remember your earlier miracles and know you’re entirely capable of working through it. For humans, the seemingly impossible is, in fact, possible. Learn to change your mindset and that will allow you to see all those amazing things.
      2. Surround yourself with optimism. You’ve come across people who persistently see the bright side of things. They will always see the sunny side of every situation. They will always have a smile and a positive attitude. Find a group of those people and soak up the positive emotions from them.
      3. Allow inspiration in. Your faith could be a great source of inspiration. Reading books and listening to music that is up-lifting can create positive vibes. 10 Inspiration success resources worth checking out.
      4. Spend time in nature. For many, nature’s bounty is awe-inspiring, from flowers and waterfalls to butterflies and spider webs. When you see what’s possible, you realize that you’re capable of remarkable things too.
      5. Be courageous. Cultivating hope requires courage to take that first step forward. Give yourself the chance to find your way through your challenges. Take that first step and then the next. You will soon be on the other side and ready to tackle your next challenge.

      If you really want to find hope in your life, you can, it’s always there! You just have to want to find it. You have to look to find the sweeter side of life.

      Although your search for hope might take some work, never give up. Just keep working through it and you’ll discover that you have plenty of reasons to be hopeful.

      Featured photo credit: silhouette in a communication tunnel via Shutterstock

      About This Quiz

      There are a lot of misconceptions regarding sadness and major depressive disorder (MDD). Knowing the differences, causes and treatments can lead to a better quality of life for you or someone you know. So how much do you really understand about the condition?

      Sadness is an emotion felt by everyone at some point but major depressive disorder — also known as clinical depression — is experienced by a smaller, though significant, portion of the population.

      One of the myths associated with major depressive disorder is that those who experience it will never feel normal again. That’s not true. With help, they can be 100 percent again.

      Sadness and major depressive disorder share some common traits but also have some clear distinctions.

      Some researchers estimate that 5 to 8 percent of the population battles major depressive disorder, while others say it may be as high as 20 percent.

      A doctor can make an evaluation based on a variety of factors, but there is no laboratory test for major depressive disorder.

      You may gain or lose weight, become sleepless or sleep excessively and become sullen or angry. It’s also possible to experience combinations of all the above.

      One of the key distinctions between sadness and major depressive disorder is the length of time a person feels depressed. Major depressive disorder lasts for more than two weeks.

      Bipolar depression is not the same thing as major depressive disorder. MDD may also be referred to as unipolar or clinical depression.

      Mania is not a component of major depressive disorder but is a characteristic of bipolar depression.

      Research indicates that females are more likely to experience major depressive disorder.

      Regardless of what societal stigmas suggest, people who have strong character and will power are just as likely to have major depressive disorder as anyone else.

      Corns or swollen tonsils may be aggravating, but it’s a malfunctioning thyroid gland that can cause major depressive disorder.

      Abuse of any kind can eventually lead to major depressive disorder.

      Methyl tertiary butyl ether should never be found on or near your brain.

      Much research has been done, but there is still much to learn.

      A layoff can trigger major depressive disorder. A death or divorce can also lead to the condition.

      If a doctor wants to pump your stomach because you’re dealing with major depressive disorder, you’ll want to get a different doctor.

      During surgery a battery is implanted to stimulate the Vagus nerve.

      People with major depressive disorder may become easily agitated, as well as particularly sad.

      Major depressive disorder is a serious condition, and anyone who says you should shake it off doesn’t understand MDD.

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