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  • Writer's pictureDena Lampert

How Do You Know If You’re Depressed?

Depression is a widely discussed topic nowadays, which for mental health is a step in the right direction. The more we can discuss mental health, the more we can work to reduce the stigma surrounding it. But just because we are more open to speaking about it, doesn’t mean it’s going away. In fact, the rates of depression have been increasing over the last few years.


Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health conditions in the US. Research from Boston University found that depression among adults in the US tripled in early 2020 when the pandemic began, increasing from 8.5% before the pandemic to 27.8%. The research found that the rate of depression also persisted into 2021, climbing to 32.8% and affecting 1 in every 3 American adults.


So what does depression look like and what can we do about it?


Symptoms of depression


The symptoms of depression can be complex and vary widely between people. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include feeling sad, hopeless, and losing interest in things you used to enjoy. The symptoms of depression persist for weeks or months and interfere with your social life, work, and family life.


The symptoms of depression can be separated into three different categories: psychological symptoms, physical symptoms, and social/behavioral symptoms.


Psychological symptoms of depression can include:

  • Ongoing low mood or sadness

  • Feeling hopeless and helpless

  • Low self-esteem

  • Feeling tearful

  • Feeling irritable

  • Having no motivation or interest in things that you used to enjoy

  • Being indecisive

  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself*

*If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself, you should seek professional support immediately.


Physical symptoms of depression can include:

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Lack of energy

  • Disturbed sleep

  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual

  • Physical symptoms of anxiety e.g. increased heart rate, sweaty palms, upset stomach, etc.


Social/behavioral symptoms of depression can include:

  • Avoiding contact with friends and family

  • Not wanting to participate in social activities

  • Isolating yourself from others

  • Neglecting your hobbies and interests

  • Not spending much time outdoors


Depression symptoms in adults vs children and adolescents


While depression in children and young people is less common than in adults, the rate is increasing. One study found that 15.08% of youth (aged 12-17) suffered from at least one major depressive episode in the past year, which is an increase of 1.24% from the previous year. However, the symptoms of depression in adults and children/adolescents can be quite different.


For example, adults will often withdraw from those around them, including friends, whereas adolescents will often continue to associate with their close friends while withdrawing more from the adults in their lives, particularly their parents. Similarly, although adolescents with depression may experience changes in sleeping patterns, they will often still find time to sleep, albeit possibly at odd hours. However, adults are more prone to experiencing insomnia and have difficulty sleeping at any time of the day. In addition, adolescents often experience irritability as a symptom of depression more often than adults.


How to treat depression


There are several different ways to treat depression, the most common and one of the most effective being therapy, particularly Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT aims to help people struggling with depression understand their thoughts and behavior, and how they affect each other and therefore influence their life. CBT takes into account a person's past by recognizing that events in the past may have affected the present, but the focus of CBT is on how people can change the way they think, feel and behave in the present. You can find out more information about CBT here.


In addition to therapy, another treatment for depression is the use of medication, specifically antidepressants. Antidepressants treat the symptoms of depression but don’t address the underlying cause, which is why they are most effective when used in conjunction with therapy.


The importance of seeking support


Some symptoms of depression are more serious than others, in particular symptoms such as suicidal thoughts and thoughts of harming yourself. If you or someone you know are experiencing these types of thoughts, it’s important to seek support immediately. If you are in Long Island you can call the Long Island Crisis Center (24-hour hotline) by calling 516-679-1111, or contact 911 for emergencies.


If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and need some support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our professional therapists and counselors are here to help. You don’t have to do it alone.

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