• Depressed, or Just Down?


    Everyone gets the blues now and then, so how do you know when your low feelings are a passing inconvenience or a signal of something more troubling? We’ll talk about some of the warning signs to look for. But whether it turns out that you’re depressed — or just down — there are a number of things you can do to help yourself.

    First, let’s get a better handle on what depression actually is. Also known as clinical depression or unipolar depression, major depressive disorder impacts almost 18.8 million American adults each year, with women nearly twice as likely as men to report symptoms. People with clinically significant depression can’t simply snap themselves out of it. Here are some signs that you might be suffering from major depressive disorder:

    • Depressed mood or “empty” feelings.
    • Sadness or crying.
    • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness.
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in things or activities you previously enjoyed.
    • Significant and unintentional weight loss or gain.
    • Sleep disturbances (sleeping too much or too little).
    • Feelings of irritation or restlessness.
    • Loss of energy or fatigue.
    • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive/inappropriate guilt.
    • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions.
    • Social withdrawal or isolation from others.
    • Experiencing recurrent thoughts of death or suicide without a specific plan, considering a specific plan for committing suicide or attempting suicide.

    Having one or another of most of these symptoms intermittently from time to time is not always a cause for concern. But as symptoms become more extreme, persistent and widespread to the point that they interfere with your life, a bigger problem that requires professional intervention is more likely. And you should always call 911 or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at1-800-273-8255 immediately if you ever experience any suicidal thoughts, impulses or actions.

    It’s important not to self-diagnose when it comes to depression. A qualified clinician can perform a mental health assessment and determine whether your symptoms meet the criteria for major depressive disorder. Should it turn out that you are clinically depressed, treatment with counseling, antidepressant medication or a combination of the two is important for healing and recovery. But you also don’t need a formal diagnosis of depression to take advantage of counseling. People who want to learn more adaptive coping skills and those who want to improve their relationships or manage their stress more effectively can also benefit greatly from therapy.

    Additionally, many people find basic self-care practices can promote a more positive mood, including:

    • Getting sufficient sleep.
    • Eating well while avoiding excessive alcohol.
    • Getting regular physical activity.
    • Spending time in nature.
    • Practicing effective stress management, such as meditation.
    • Maintaining social relationships.
    • Having hobbies or outside interests.
    • Reducing time with social media or the news if these activities cause you distress.

    However, if you find you’re still having difficulties with your mood even with appropriate self-care, you may benefit from professional treatment. If you’re concerned that you might be struggling with depression, call my office at 407-579-2070 to set up a consultation. Remember, if you’re having suicidal thoughts, it’s important to get help right away by calling 911 or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Next time, we’ll explore coping with social withdrawal, which often accompanies depression, in greater detail.

    Therapy services available via Telehealth.