“How do you know if you’re depressed?”
My Journey With Depression: Instalment #3
Are You Depressed?
When I have medical questions, I often check in with Dr. Google. www.webmd.com is usually at the top of any search I do for all things health-related. Here’s what WebMD suggests we watch out for when trying to determine if we’re struggling with depression:
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Pessimism and hopelessness
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much
- Loss of interest in things once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away
- Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
There are several things a doctor must take in to consideration when trying to decide if a patient is depressed. How long has the patient been experiencing their symptoms? How severe are they? Does depression and/or mental illness run in the family? Is the patient using drugs and/or alcohol (remember, alcohol is a depressant: If you’d like to know whether or not you may possibly drink too much, fill out this questionnaire:
There are physical causes of depression (brain chemistry imbalances), and there are social/situational causes, such as overwhelming problems that the individual may not have tools to effectively deal with. Your doctor can help you sort out which (possibly both?) may be your issue.
If you’d like a good questionnaire that I find helpful in determining whether or not someone may be depressed, consider filling this out: https://www.jaxhealth.com/app/files/public/10161/burns-depression.pdf. Here’s a good one for anxiety too: https://www.stjohnhealthsystem.com/media/file/1250/burns_anxiety_inventory.pdf.
Who Am I?
My name’s Mike MacKinnon, and I’m a strength coach in Mississauga, Ontario. I serve clients in the Greater Toronto area, and also offer weight loss coaching and life coaching services. My mission is to help others become the best “them” they can be.
Depression is something I have struggled with in the past, but I have developed tools, and a system, that works. I’ve learned how to find joy, even in the midst of a depressive episode. This series on depression is designed to share with you what I’ve learned.
I Think I’m Depressed: What Do I Do?
If you feel you may be depressed, and you identify with some – or all – of the symptoms above, I’m going to encourage you to do 3 things. First, go speak to your doctor about it. Second, consider finding a psychotherapist who specializes in depression and anxiety, and go speak to him/her. Third, keep watching my blogs over the next few weeks, because I’m going to talk about what I do to manage my symptoms.
Now let’s assume that you are depressed. You’ve received a firm diagnosis. What should you do next?
The first thing is to acknowledge it and accept it. Don’t fight it. If you’re depressed, then you’re suffering from a medical condition that you didn’t bring on yourself. Like a patient who is diagnosed with cancer, you no more invited your condition in to your life than he or she did.
It’s not your fault. You didn’t cause it. But you can control it, and possibly even cure it. I mean that.
The sooner you accept your reality, the sooner you can get yourself about the business of taking the appropriate next steps.
Acceptance and Depression
I think that people resist accepting their depression because to do so, in their mind, would mean defeat. It would mean that, somehow, they are not mentally strong enough to overcome their negative thinking. Let me say this clearly: nothing could be further from the truth. Acceptance of the condition is the first step in defeating it.
And to defeat it is to not fight it, rather to work with it. Negative thinking, which is the basis of depression, cannot be out-thought. We cannot always simply replace the bad thoughts with good ones. If we could, then we wouldn’t be struggling, would we?
We need to learn to manage the thinking by working with it on its own terms. And that’s what I’m going to be expanding on in the weeks to come.
Your Next Steps
So, you’re depressed. Accept it. As soon as you do, you can begin to work on overcoming it. And although it may seem that you’re engaged in a battle to gain control over your thinking, it’s not in battling the condition that you will overcome it.
Don’t fight the “stinkin’ thinkin’”. Don’t try to use your mind to defeat your mind. It’s not worth it. It won’t work. It’ll just make it worse.
Instead, stay tuned, and I’ll tell you what to do to reprogram your mind, and move to a happier place! If you’d like help sooner than that, then please reach out to me at 647-677-6025, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your story.