What is a Depression Diagnosis?

Mental health is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  As someone who has struggled with depression on my own, it can be a scary diagnosis to get at first glance.  There is a lot of stigmas surrounding it unfortunately, even within families and friend groups.

So, that is why I am here today.  While we can learn about it from websites like this, https://psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression, I still think hearing about it from someone who has actually experienced it can be quite valuable.  If you think that you are suffering from it or have received a diagnosis and want treatment, I hope you stick around.  I will be explaining some important details surrounding this.

What is Depression?

I will start here, just to give you a general idea of what to expect.  In terms of psychology, it is known as major depressive disorder, or MDD.  Most therapists and psychiatrists are able to diagnose their patients with it, along with some primary care physicians.  I received my initial diagnosis from my PCP, but as I said, there is no right or wrong way to be diagnosed.

It is fairly common, impacting many teenagers and adults in the United States and across the world.  Now, it may be common, but that does not mean that it is not serious.  You see, it can cause a serious number of disruptions in your day-to-day life if left untreated.  Let me explain.

The Symptoms

As I provide you with this list, do try to remember that this will look different for everyone who experiences it.  So, even if you do not feel that yours line up with what I am saying specifically, that does not invalidate your experiences.  I think that is an important disclaimer, which is why I place such importance on that.

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Moving on, there are mild to severe symptoms for someone who is depressed, which we usually think of as on a spectrum of that severity.  This could include someone feeling sad for long periods of time, or listlessness and a lack of desire to do activities that were previously desirable.

Changes in appetite can be another warning sign.  It is different than eating disorders, but they can be comorbid, so try to remember that.  They can also occur simultaneously.  Keep track of your eating habits, and if you find that you are experiencing hunger than usual in conjunction with some of the other things that I am listing out today, it may be time to seek help.

In a similar vein comes sleeping patterns.  Someone experiencing depression may find that they are having a harder time getting to sleep or that they are falling asleep far too often.  Energy levels in general can be affected by this, though, so if you are overly lethargic even when you are getting a solid eight hours, it could be linked to this.

Getting more serious, some people find that they have a very hard time concentrating on tasks or getting things done that are important for their lives.  This can result in something like feelings of guilt or worthlessness, which are unfortunately common in terms of this mental illness.

Finally, you could have thoughts of suicide or ending your own life.  For some people it is passive wishes for death, and others become more active in those thoughts.  If you are experiencing anything like that, consider calling a hotline like this one.  They exist to help people through these difficult times of crisis.

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Potential Treatments

Because each person who has depression has different symptoms at different levels of severity, there is no one single cure or remedy for it.  Rather, many find success blending different treatments together to help mitigate their struggles.  That is what I do, personally.

Usually, the first thing that is recommended is therapy.  Be this solo therapy or a group setting, either way it can be beneficial to you, especially with a trained and/or licensed counselor.  They can help you to process the hurts and trauma that you have experienced and provide you with some strategies for days in which you are really struggling with depression symptoms.

Another that some turn their nose up at is medication.  There are many clinically approved medications meant to treat depression.  That is because it is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which means that if people have a way to remedy that, their symptoms tend to be lessened.

Just note that nothing will instantly cure a mental illness like this.  It often takes months, if not years of treatment and healing.  I would like to emphasize again that there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are having a difficult time with something like this.  It is more than okay to seek out help.

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