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How Do I Know if I’m Depressed and When Should I Seek Help?

How do I know if I’m depressed?

Depression is a mood disorder that can result in unrelenting sadness and/or loss of interest in doing things you typically enjoy. Depression can look different for different people. Some individuals may feel unmotivated or limited in their desire to be around other people when experiencing depression. Other common signs include: irritability or frustration, difficulty sleeping (e.g., sleeping way too much or simply not sleeping enough), low energy, slowed thinking or movements, major changes in appetite or weight, trouble concentrating or making decisions, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, or frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

What are ways to cope with depression?

When you’re depressed, it may be challenging to get yourself to do things to feel better. If you’re having difficulty knowing what to do, here are some self-care options that might help:

  1. Exercise - go for a walk or run, go on a hike, go to the gym, practice yoga

  2. Interact - visit or call a friend or family member, join a social club or group

  3. Hobbies - read, attend a sports game, listen to music, paint a picture, travel

  4. Personal care - make a healthy meal, get your hair or nails done, be in nature

When should I seek professional help?

If you’re experiencing depression and the things you’ve been trying are just not really helping that much, give therapy a try. Several mental health professionals offer therapy to treat depression, such as psychologists, counselors, and social workers. Your therapist can help you navigate the cycle of depression, offer you an empathetic ear, and teach you strategies to reduce your symptoms.

What if it’s an emergency and I need help right now?

If you have thoughts about self-harm or suicide, call 911, a local emergency number, or a suicide hotline number. One 24/7 option is the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the number is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Also, please reach out to someone you trust and let them know what is happening and how you’re feeling. If you are a part of a faith community, consider connecting with a member of your faith community.

Can I prevent depression?

Unfortunately, depression can’t be prevented. However, there are steps that you can take if you feel yourself falling into a depressive episode:

  1. Reach out to people you love and trust, especially if you’re having a crisis

  2. Practice self-care because it’s important to keep yourself going, even when you don’t feel motivated or interested

  3. Meet with a therapist, even if you’re not feeling super low

  4. If you frequently find yourself feeling depressed, consider meeting with a psychiatrist or primary care physician about medication to reduce your depressive symptoms

Your experience is valid. There is help. You don’t have to go through this alone. If you’re currently looking for a therapist, feel free to reach out to Regent University’s Psychological Services Center (PSC). We’d be more than happy to help you work towards healing.

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