Nearly one in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness, and depression is one of the most common. With the considerable rise of depression rates due to COVID-19, mental health awareness is becoming increasingly imperative. It’s important to be able to understand and recognize the symptoms of depression and know where to turn for help. Also, it can be helpful to be aware that depression may not look the same in everyone.
1. Learn to Recognize the Symptoms of Depression
Whether you or a loved one may be battling depression, being familiar with the warning signs is a necessary step in the right direction to recovery. Although depression looks different in everyone, some of the most common symptoms are:
- Feelings of prolonged sadness and emptiness
- Being easily frustrated or irritable
- Eating too much or too little
- Extreme lack of energy
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in most activities, especially those you used to enjoy
- Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent suicidal thoughts
It’s important to note that experiencing some of these symptoms now and then doesn’t necessarily correlate to a mental illness. Determining a diagnosis depends on the severity and duration of these symptoms, as well as how much they interfere with daily activities. If you or a loved one thinks they are depressed, it may be beneficial to consult a professional.
2. Be Aware that Depression Looks Different in Everyone
Depression is a tricky disease. It doesn’t look the same in everyone, and some depressed people are more functional than others. Since some symptoms may be more severe than others, you shouldn’t compare one person’s mental illness to another. You may never know that a loved one is struggling with depression just by looking at them. Some don’t even know that they, themselves, are struggling with depression. In fact, it is common for people to try to convince themselves that they aren’t depressed, or that the way they feel is normal and they are overreacting. This is normal for people battling with mental illness: they may be in denial. But, the first step in recovering from a mental illness is recognizing and accepting it. The next step is reaching out for help.
3. Know Where to Turn for Help
Turning to someone for help is one of the most significant things you can do while battling a mental illness. Most importantly, if you think you are going to hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately for help. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. If you think you might be struggling with depression, make an appointment to see your doctor or a mental health professional as soon as possible. It may be hard to reach out for help, but it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself. You do not need to go through this alone, and there are people who care about you and support you. If you aren’t comfortable seeking treatment or professional advice right away, consider talking to a friend, a loved one, a faith leader, or someone else you trust. Recovering from depression can be a demanding commitment, but once you choose hope, anything is possible.
Post written by Jill Bosela