Bad days: in most cases, they’re just a small part of an otherwise normal week. Some bad days feel like they last longer. In more severe examples, bad days seem to go on for weeks or months at a time. If your bad day keeps extending into the next day, perhaps what you are feeling isn’t sadness, but rather depression.
Depression, also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is not an emotion but rather a mental health condition. Depression is when your feelings of sadness are longer-lasting, more intense, and bring on a bevy of other symptoms both emotional and physical.
If you’re reading this, you’re likely wondering where the line between sadness and depression is drawn. Continue reading to learn more about how to know if you have depression.
How To Know If You Have Depression
Different people experience the symptoms of depression very differently, but most cases will have a fair amount of warning signs in common.
Symptoms or warning signs of depression include:
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling helpless
- Lack of interest in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite, leading to weight loss or weight gain
- Changes in sleep patterns, leading to sleeping too little or sleeping too much
- Irritability and angry outbursts
- Loss of energy
- Feelings of guilt, self-blame, and self-loathing
- Reckless, self-destructive behavior
- Substance abuse
- Difficulty thinking or staying focused
- Unexplained aches and pains
What Causes Depression?
Depression, like other mental health conditions, is complicated to say the least. Take a more traditional illness – the common cold, for example. The cold can be traced back to a definitive cause of infection, but depression is a complex mix of biological and environmental factors.
Because of how depression is often depicted in the media and pop culture, we oftentimes view it as simply a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is only a part of the larger truth, however, as depression can also be brought on by stressful or traumatic events, hormonal changes, or certain health conditions.
Additional risk factors for the development of depression include:
- Loneliness/social isolation
- Relationship conflicts
- Stress in your personal or professional lives
- Chronic or life-threatening condition or pain
- Family history of depression
- Childhood abuse or trauma
- Substance abuse
- How to manage your depression
Treatment can come in many forms. Some doctors will recommend more traditional treatments like antidepressant medications, but innovative new practices like ketamine infusion therapy are also showing great promise for depression treatment.
Depression is an incredibly isolating condition, forcing you to feel like you have the weight of the entire world on your shoulders. One of the best ways to fight back against your symptoms is to build a social support net. Support can take many shapes and sizes: friends, family, therapy, doctors, etc.
Support your physical health and your mental health may respond. Try to get around eight hours of sleep at night, eat a healthy diet, and engage in regular physical activity.