A bad breakup. Being passed over for a raise or promotion at work. Seeing on social media that your friends had a get-together without you.
There are valid reasons to feel sad. But sadness and depression are not the same things.
Sadness will pass; you may still have times when you can laugh, smile and find joy in life. Depression can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life, hamper your ability to make clear decisions and lead to long-term consequences.
What is depression?
It’s an oversimplification, but the easiest way to tell sadness from depression is longevity. Sadness may last for a few days or weeks; depression is an intense feeling of sadness that lasts for weeks or months.
The symptoms of depression include:
- A hopeless outlook on life in general. You feel like there’s nothing you can do to improve your life. Everything turns out wrong. You feel guilty, responsible for things beyond your control and that there’s no point in trying to make things better.
- You no longer care for things like you used to. You don’t care about your softball league’s record, you no longer want to do crafts or pursue your hobbies, you aren’t interested in your partner’s desires, and you don’t care to socialize.
- You can’t sleep. Fatigue and weariness are major red flags. You can’t fall asleep, and if you do, you wake up during the night. You experience “intrusive thoughts” — ideas or notions you can’t control that disrupt your rest.
- Increased anxiety. Depression and anxiety often present at the same time. You may feel nervous, sense an increased heart rate, have panic attacks, unexplained sweating or a nervous twitch. Sometimes, it’s hard to explain what, exactly, you’re worried about.
- It’s hard to control your emotions. From angry outbursts to uncontrollable crying, it’s difficult to regulate how you feel and react to external factors. Your up-and-down mood makes it hard for you — and others — to predict your reaction to good or bad news.
- You lose or gain weight. Depression affects your appetite. You might crave carbs and comfort foods, overeat and gain weight. You also might lose your appetite and not eat at all, leading to unexplained weight loss.
- Thinking about death. Everyone faces their own mortality sooner or later but becoming fixated on your death is a warning sign. Depression doesn’t mean you’re suicidal, but over-thinking your death is cause for concern. Rising awareness of mental health and suicide makes it easier to reach out for health. You can call Willowbrooke at Tanner’s 24-hour help line at 770-812-9551, 911 or any other resources for support if you’re uncomfortable speaking with friends or loved ones. But remember, those who love you will take precautions to ensure your safety and see you back to a healthy life.
How do I get help for depression?
If you have a primary care provider, tell them about your symptoms and feelings; they may have a referral they can offer to make sure you get the help you need.
If you don’t have a primary care provider or are uncomfortable speaking with them, you can find other outlets for help at tanner.org/behavioral-health-care/resources.
Treatment may include lifestyle changes, medication and talking through your thoughts and concerns. Your care plan should be tailored to you.
When you’re ready to reach out, we’re here to help. Find the support you need at WillowbrookeAtTanner.org.