Feeling down or sad is part of the human condition, and most everyone experiences periods during which laughter and happiness seem hard to come by. But how do you recognize whether it’s turned the corner into depression?
If you consider that 21 million adults in the United States have had at least one depressive episode, you’re right to be concerned.
A common warning sign that depression may be present is when your feelings of sadness, helplessness, or hopelessness are constant companions and they last for more than two weeks. From the moment you wake up until you lay your head back down, these feelings are persistent and constant.
Conversely, if you’ve experienced a loss and you’re grieving, for example, your sad feelings often come in waves. In between, you may be able to bounce back a little and find some small joys.
When you’re sad, you may not feel like getting together with friends and you might prefer to be alone for a time, but you don’t lose interest in just about everything. Instead of being social, you may curl up with a movie or a good book that transports you for a while.
With depression, you can’t drum up even a hint of interest in any of the activities you once enjoyed. Whatever used to be your go-to fun pastime or temporary escape, you’re no longer deriving any satisfaction out of the pursuit; the most you can muster is indifference.
While sadness and hopelessness may be the hallmarks of depression, they’re often partnered with a sense of worthlessness that can even turn into self-loathing. With depression, you might feel as though you don’t deserve happiness, and your self-esteem can hit rock bottom.
When you’re sad or grieving, you may not feel great and you can get down on yourself, but you’re generally not stuck in a cycle of feeling worthless.
Taking the worthless aspect of depression a step further, you could develop suicidal thoughts or tendencies. People with depression sometimes feel as though they don’t deserve to live or that there’s no point to living — different from thinking about joining someone in death if you’re grieving.
With extreme depression, some people can become obsessed with thoughts about death and dying, and they might even play through different scenarios in their mind.
If you’re still unsure as to whether you or a loved one is dealing with sadness or depression, it’s a very good idea to seek professional help. Our team of compassionate mental health care providers are at the ready to help you get on the road to happiness.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of depression, please contact us by calling our office in Houston, Texas, or click the “Book online” link on this website.