Feeling sad sometimes is part of being human. Having good emotional health means you’re able to experience a range of feelings, including anger, happiness, sadness and fear. But when those feelings are extreme, are interfering with your daily life or aren’t appropriate for the circumstances, it can signal a problem.
If you’re struggling with overwhelming feelings of sadness, numbness or hopelessness, you may be thinking, “Should I get help for depression?” Asking for help with depression can take a great deal of courage, but it’s almost always the first step in the right direction to getting your life back on track and overcoming negative feelings and emotions.
When Sadness Crosses Over to Depression
If you’re struggling with depression, it can be difficult to decide what’s a normal part of life and what’s a problem that needs to be dealt with. This is especially true if you’re experiencing symptoms as a result of a traumatic event or death of a loved one when you’re expected to be sad or have difficulty completing daily life tasks.
The main difference between sadness and depression exists in the intensity and the duration of the feeling. Feeling sad usually lasts a few hours or a few days and can be remedied with comfort measures like hanging out with friends or watching your favorite movie. Depression is extreme and can last for months and even years if it’s not treated.
Normal things like grief and uncertainty over a changing life situation can have many of the same effects as depression, including:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping
- A lack of interest in activities you previously found enjoyable
- Struggling with work or personal relationships
We all experience some of these symptoms at some point in our lives, but if your symptoms are affecting your health or interfering with your daily life, it’s time to seek help.
Another warning sign could be that a loved one has approached you to express their concern. When we’re in the fog of depression, it can be hard to see how bad the situation really is. Hearing from a friend or family member that they think there’s a problem should be an indicator that it’s time to talk with a professional.
The Problem With Just Trying to Power Through
Many people who don’t understand what depression is may try to be helpful by suggesting things like “just focus on what’s good” or “fake it till you make it,” but in reality, ignoring and minimizing the symptoms of depression is never a good idea and can lead to serious health problems. Those with untreated depression are more likely to:
- Experience anxiety disorders and panic attacks
- Have difficulty establishing and maintaining personal relationships
- Be at an increased risk of heart problems such as cardiovascular disease
- Have suicidal thoughts or engage in suicidal behaviors
- Use self-harm as a coping technique
- Struggle with substance abuse issues
The truth is that depression takes a huge toll on your mental, emotional and physical health, and just like you would treat a broken arm or a sprained ankle, you should also let qualified medical professionals who can accurately diagnose the problem and start you on a course of treatment address your depression. (Men dealing with depression are often especially likely to just try powering through.)
Could the Symptoms Be Caused by Something Else?
One reason why it’s important to seek help for depression is that it’s not always a mental health issue behind these feelings. Other health problems can leave you lethargic, with little interest in your normal activities, and can explain physical symptoms such as significant weight gain or loss. Some other common diagnoses that could be causing your depressive symptoms include:
- Kidney disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic pain disorders
- Side effects of certain prescription medications
Depression can also coexist with other mental health problems such as substance abuse, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, anxiety disorders and PTSD. The wide range of issues that could be contributing to or increasing your depression makes it critical to talk to a mental health professional who can rule out any underlying physical problems before moving forward with a treatment plan.
Should I Get Help for Depression?
You’ve read through the symptoms lists and had some conversations with loved ones who have concerns, but when is it time to get help for depression? The answer is as soon as possible after you realize there’s an issue. In most cases, the sooner you get help, the faster you can recover, but there are some things to keep in mind about what a depression diagnosis can mean.
Many people are worried about whether a formal diagnosis of depression can affect their jobs, family court cases or even just how those around them might see them differently, but in reality, a diagnosis of depression doesn’t mean much except that your care team can now proceed with a treatment plan to help you work toward a better life.
If you think you may be depressed, the best thing to do is to go to a mental health professional and explain that you’ve been experiencing some symptoms you’re concerned about. The doctor will likely ask you some questions and may have you take a depression screening questionnaire, and you may also be referred to a primary care doctor if you don’t already have one to rule out any medical causes.
A Better Life Is Possible
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I get help for depression?”, the answer is a resounding “yes.” When you’re in the midst of bad circumstances and struggling with mental health, you can feel like there’s no way out and that things are never going to get better, but this is the lie that is depression. Overcoming depression without help can be difficult, but when you surround yourself with a support team and dedicated mental health professionals who can give you the tools you need to get back to a better life, the world starts to look a little brighter.
Whether you’re interested in beginning therapy or your doctor thinks medication could be beneficial in managing your symptoms, having help as you walk through this time can make all the difference.
If you’ve been struggling with symptoms of depression or are feeling hopeless or like there’s no point to life, help is available. Contact FHE Health today to learn more about the services and programs we offer for those dealing with depression and take the first step toward getting better.