DEPRESSION

Depression: Signs and How to Overcome It

There are days, and sometimes weeks or months, when the vibrancy of life's sensations approaches zero. Work loses its motivation, the usual routine turns into a series of meaningless "tasks," and even favorite food brings no satisfaction. The thought starts to creep in: could this be depression?

Depression: a term often used to describe both the feeling of fleeting sadness and prolonged low mood. However, psychotherapy emphasizes a significant difference between feeling sad and experiencing a depressive state. By mistaking one for the other, a person may overlook signs of depression and delay seeking help. How can you help yourself and distinguish between these states?

Pay attention to the symptoms of depression

Don't rush to diagnose yourself with a depressive disorder; first, recognize it.
Depression symptoms are like warning signs and indicators of your state.
Understanding the distinctions between sadness and depression becomes evident. Here are some differences; try to relate them to yourself and see which symptoms resonate.

Physical Symptoms

A low mood can impact your physical well-being but not to an extreme extent. You can get out of bed and perform basic morning rituals even if you're feeling down. Depression, on the other hand, significantly affects the body: even routine and simple actions, like taking a shower, can become overwhelming tasks.
Depressive disorders often come with a decline in energy, insomnia, or excessive sleepiness, and loss of appetite.
If the emotion of sadness can fluctuate and coexist with other emotions, your mood is dynamic and capable of change. For instance, you might wake up in a good mood but feel down later in the day. Depression has a more prolonged nature: a person may spend the entire day in a state of exhaustion, feeling that everything remains consistently bad throughout the day.

Toxic emotions

The emotion of sadness is often accompanied by feelings of heaviness, disappointment, or irritation and can sometimes evoke hope and daydreaming. In the case of depressive syndrome, accompanying emotions are more toxic and destructive. You may feel constant guilt and shame even for the fact of your existence, hopelessness, and deep despair.

Emptiness and lack of desires

In sorrow, there's a certain sense of value or outcome — for instance, you might feel better after a tearful evening. We sense its intensity and nuances, understand the causes and effects. Sometimes, being sad is allowing yourself to relax and release accumulated emotions; it can even be pleasant.
Depression, on the other hand, is more associated with absolute emptiness, flatness, the colorlessness of the world around. No joy or fulfillment, just indifference. Desires disappear: there's no inclination for anything, and what's the point?

No wonder J.K. Rowling chose Dementors to represent depression in Harry Potter. This state sucks the life out of you, drains your ability to feel emotions, hope, and move towards your goals.

How long does depression last and how to diagnose it

If you recognize yourself in many symptoms, don't rush to diagnose yourself — it can only be done by a psychiatrist. Professionals pay attention not only to symptoms but also to their duration. A few days of such a state do not confirm a diagnosis of "clinical depression."
Two weeks of prolonged low mood and enumerated symptoms are one of the criteria for diagnosing depression.
No matter how sad you are, it's impossible to stay in a state of sorrow permanently for two consecutive weeks. There will still be mood fluctuations, periods of increased activity and interest, experiences of positive emotions, even if sadness looms in the background. Depression is described as a more opaque state that persists for two weeks or more.

This state has various faces: there are different types of depression, from chronic to seasonal. Sometimes it can coexist with other symptoms, as in the case of anxious-depressive, neurotic, or bipolar disorders. Don't rush to be frightened by these terms or attempt to self-diagnose.
A psychiatrist or psychotherapist can provide a diagnosis, so if you want to be sure, it's worth consulting a professional.
Beck's Depression Scale is one tool that may help. It doesn't replace professional diagnosis, but scoring above average on this scale might give you more confidence to consult a specialist and start treating depression.

How to overcome depression: what to do and does self-treatment work?

Facing such a condition, the question arises: is it possible to somehow help yourself? Logically, if sadness has passed on its own before, then maybe the depressive state will disperse over time. However, there are several reasons why self-treatment for depression is more challenging than you might think.

Inability to help yourself

Since in depression there's no inclination for anything at all, finding the energy and resources to help yourself is practically impossible. It seems to eat away from within, and a person directs negative emotions towards themselves: "I can't do anything, I can't cope, I'm a failure." It's very challenging to break free from the cycle of self-loathing and self-blame without external help.

Moreover, if you haven't felt a depressive state before, you lack the necessary knowledge and tools to get out of it.
Self-treatment for depression is like expecting to swim to the other end of the shore without prior swimming skills.
There are many ways to deal with sorrow —give yourself a break, watch a cheerful movie, meet friends. However, in depression, common methods stop working, or there's no desire to engage with them.

Hidden causes

In a state of sorrow, you can identify the cause and address the issue specifically. In depression, the causes can be hidden so deeply inside that even a professional cannot determine them externally. For instance, a woman may appear cheerful and joyful in public, and those around may not suspect what is happening inside her. Depressive states seem opaque, as if it's impossible to pinpoint the cause of what's happening and simply return to "normal life."
As part of the "Face of depression" social media challenge, people shared their photos with a diagnosed depression. Many of them looked as if in a joyful and uplifted mood, while the true face and reasons for depression were deeply hidden inside.

Isolation from others

Sorrow often pushes us to connect with others: you want to complain, go somewhere together, or just share the silence. Depression, on the other hand, isolates from loved ones, and communicating becomes difficult and unwilling. People seem to lock themselves in a tall tower, all alone in their misery. In such a state, it's challenging to confess, let alone seek help or support.
And most importantly, do not blame yourself for your condition, even when you feel too helpless to fight. If you notice symptoms of depression, confirm the diagnosis with a psychotherapist and don't hesitate to seek professional help. You can quickly fill out a questionnaire on our website and find your specialist right now.
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