Feeling Depressed? You're Not Alone. Here are Some Dos and Don'ts
Everyone experiences sadness in life. It’s a normal emotion that comes with being human. But if you’re feeling down for an extended period of time (two weeks or more) and it’s impacting your day-to-day functioning when it comes to routine tasks, your relationships and/or your job, you may be experiencing depression.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), more than 15 million American adults—or about 6.7 percent of people 18 and older in the U.S.—suffer from major depressive disorder, and it’s more common in women than men. According to the ADAA, 2 to 3 percent of 6- to 12-year-old children and 6 to 8 percent of teens may have serious depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health says that people who are experiencing depression may be feeling an array of signs and symptoms that carry on for 14 days or more. According to NIMH, Some of those are:
- Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms
Depression is more than feeling blue. It’s an illness, and with the proper attention and care, it can often be treated. If the list above resonates, here’s what you should—and shouldn’t—do.
Talk to you doctor. A trained medical professional can help you understand what you’re feeling and offer help. There are a number of ways to treat depression, including different types of therapy, medication and even exercise. If you noticed something has changed in the way you feel, be proactive. Don’t ignore it and hope it will go away.
Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep and make exercise a part of your regular routine. By keeping your body healthy, you’ll have more energy and may start to feel better. Talk to your doctor about how to take a more proactive role in your own day-to-day health.
Ask for help. If you’re having a crisis and considering suicide, help is available. Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Don't self-medicate. Drugs, alcohol and even junk food may seem to provide a brief sense of relief. But in the long run, these items won’t help you feel better. They may even make you feel worse.
Don’t isolate. When feeling down or anxious, people have a tendency to spend more time alone. Be aware of that and make an effort to reach out to friends and family and get out of the house. Schedule outings and put them on your calendar to hold yourself accountable.
Don’t feel ashamed. Depression isn’t a choice, and it’s not something you can just snap out of. It’s an illness. Just as you shouldn’t feel embarrassed if you become physically ill, you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you are experiencing depression or any type of mental illness. Make it a priority to get help and take care of yourself.
If you suspect you might be depressed, the ADAA provides a screening tool, here, which you can fill out and share with your health care provider.