According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 300 million people of all ages around the globe suffer from depression. Worldwide, it’s the leading cause of disability and heavily contributes to the planet’s burden of disease.
Unfortunately, many people suffering from depression don’t seek help. In fact, only one in 27 people with depression in the poorest countries received what’s considered minimally adequate care to treat their condition.
And in the wealthiest countries, only one in five people seek out help for their depression. That needs to change.
But it’s not always obvious if you’re just feeling sad or you’re depressed enough to need mental health care. If you’re worried you may be depressed, keep reading.
We’re sharing with you eight signs it’s time to seek help.
1. Seek Help If You’re Feeling Hopeless
It’s normal to feel frustrated, sad, and regretful at times. those feelings are part of being human.
However, if you begin feeling as though there’s no reason to move forward and life is utterly hopeless, it’s time to seek help.
2. Thoughts of Suicide, Death or Self-Harm
Seek help for depression immediately if you are intentionally harming yourself through acts such as cutting. You should also seek immediate help if you have continuous thoughts of suicide or death.
There’s no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed about these feelings. Nor should you wait because there may be a time when you have the opportunity to quickly act on your feelings.
You may not get the chance to change your mind. Don’t keep thoughts of suicide or death a secret.
3. Inability to Focus
Occasional moments of brain fog isn’t a big deal. We all sometimes forget where we left the remote or our best friend’s birthday.
But when you’re depressed, it becomes hard to focus and even harder to make decisions. If you’ve noticed your work performance and other responsibilities are beginning to suffer or you’re making more mistakes than usual, it could be a sign you’re depressed.
4. Irritability and Moodiness
While there are plenty of other reasons why someone might be feeling moody or irritable, but it is a red flag. If you suddenly notice that even little things set you off such as someone leaving the lights on accidentally or increased sensitivity to noise, these are signs something is off with you.
Famed therapist Sigmund Freud referred to depression as anger turned inward. Left unchecked, that anger can surface as the desire to harm someone else or yourself.
5. Changes in Sleep Patterns
A change in sleeping patterns can show up as either too little sleep or too much sleep. It’s not the sleep disorder that’s causing the depression, but irregular sleep, insomnia, and/or oversleeping do play roles in fluctuating your mood.
If you notice your sleep patterns have changed, it may also be due to stress or another underlying health issue. If things don’t improve, get help.
6. Abusing Drugs and/or Alcohol
Studies have shown there is a direct correlation between depression and substance abuse. In fact, it was shown that 32% of individuals with a mood disorder also had a substance abuse disorder.
If you’ve noticed an increase in your alcohol or drug intake or you’re aware that you’re taking drugs and/or alcohol in order to feel better, you need to seek out help. Depression is hard enough to conquer without having to kick an addiction on top of it.
7. Loss of Interest in Activities You Used to Love
Apathy is another sign of depression. If you used to love traveling, hanging out with friends, and listening to music but would now rather lie in bed staring at your walls, it’s a sign something isn’t right.
While sometimes no longer wanting to do the same activities such as hanging out at a bar is a sign you’re growing up, other times it’s a red flag that you’re feeling depressed.
8. Feelings of Unworthiness or Guilt
It’s common to feel worthless or guilty when you’re depressed. If thoughts such as, “I’m not good enough,” “I’m a loser,” or “Nothing I do is ever right” keep persisting in your head, you need help.
Not getting help for these repetitive thoughts can trigger a worse spiral that can make you feel more depressed. It can also lead to self-harm.
Therapeutic Treatment Options
There is more than one option when it comes to getting help for depression. If you’ve noticed one or more of the above signs for a period of three weeks or longer, don’t wait to get help.
Sometimes just talking about what’s going on in your life is enough to help. A trained therapist can help you detect patterns of behaviors or thoughts that are contributing to your depression.
Some therapists give homework such as writing in a journal. A good therapist can also teach you exercises to help reduce stress and anxiety.
You’ll learn more about your illness and how to identify and avoid triggers.
It’s not uncommon for a therapist to prescribe anti-depression medications. Some use these medications for a short time while others use them long term.
You should discuss the following factors with your doctor before taking prescription medications:
- Your symptoms
- Cost of medication
- Interactions with other drugs and/or supplements you’re taking
- Current health issues
- Possible side effects
Many prescription medications take a few weeks before the begin working effectively. You should also talk to your doctor before you stop taking anti-depressants.
Not everyone feels comfortable taking prescription medications. There are other solutions available. Keep trying everything until you find something that works for you.
Just make sure you talk to your doctor first to make sure you won’t have any adverse reactions to a specific form of therapy.
- Herbal supplements such as St. John’s Wort
- Massage therapy
- Relaxation/breathing techniques
You may find you need to combine a few forms of therapy to get the best benefits.
In combination with these forms of therapy, it’s a good idea to make some lifestyle changes. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables while cutting out sugar and pre-made foods can help improve your mental and physical health.
Daily exercise such as jogging, yoga or even walking also has mental and physical health benefits. Try eliminating drugs and alcohol from your life.
Learn Other Ways to Live Better
There are also other ways to seek help when life gets hard. Picking up new hobbies, clearing out unwanted clutter, and cutting down on news and social media can all help.
If you’re looking to learn new and better ways of living life, we can help. We’ve got advice on everything from money to health to home improvement.