Most people feel down occasionally, but in some situations a low mood can become chronic. Major life changes like divorce or empty nest syndrome can create sadness that becomes independent of any circumstance and seems to stretch on indefinitely. Here are some tips to help determine whether it’s time to seek out help for a suspected case of depression.
Moderate depression can cause a significant impact on daily life, and severe depression can lead to life-threatening situations. Mild depression can often go unnoticed. It may hamper daily activities, but friends and loved ones may not notice that anything is amiss.
Mild cases of depression are often relieved with meditation and exercise, among other holistic methods.
One simple way to determine the severity of a depression case is to ask the patient how it is affecting relationships, daily activities and thoughts and feelings. While some people are unable to identify symptoms of depression, they can often recognize that they don’t feel as they normally do.
The time to look for help is when depression seems to be moderate and is affecting daily functioning like difficulty getting to work or school, or finishing assigned tasks. There may also be a desire to isolate oneself from others. Thoughts of suicide, a sense of hopelessness that doesn’t subside, unshakable sadness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness or shame and irritability or anger in the extreme are all mood-related signs that depression may need to be addressed with treatment. They may also experience other physical symptoms, such as headaches, a change in sleeping patterns or eating patterns.
Among these signs there may be symptoms that others notice, but the patient has not identified. For instance, coworkers may comment that the individual doesn’t seem like himself, or a relative may notice that they are not attending any family events or socializing with friends.
Once a case of depression is suspected a full checkup by a family physician can be helpful because the symptoms of depression can also indicate signs of a physical ailment, such as diabetes or anemia.
The second step is to consult a clinician that treats mood disorders. A clinician can be found via the family physician, through a local university, mental health association or from an insurance company’s provider list. The therapist will evaluate symptoms, design a treatment program and begin strategies to reduce symptoms.