Do you fear that you may be developing depression?
You are not sure, but do you feel scared even to ask? Do you fear that you may be labeled “crazy” or forced to take medication if you seek help? You are not alone. One in five people suffers from depression at some point in their lives.
Many people don’t recognize it. Many people don’t seek help in earlier stages when simple talk therapy and mind training can help them prevent depression from becoming severe. Some people even resist when they develop severe depression even though so many medications and non-medication treatments, like TMS, are now available. My heart aches to see people suffering needlessly when so much of that suffering could be prevented.
Depression is a complex illness that can be caused by many different reasons.
Some reasons are not in your control but others are, including how you manage your stress and train your mind. For that purpose, I have written a whole book; “Stress to Joy”. In this article, let’s see some points to help you differentiate stress from clinical depression.
Let’s learn these differences through the story of Roxanne.
She is a 35 yr old mother of 3 kids and a working woman. Roxanne used to feel sad on and off when she faced a big stressor, like an issue in her relationships, a conflict at work, and problems with money. Most of the time, her reaction was brief, and she was able to feel happy within a few hours. The short periods of depressed mood were her stress reactivity symptoms and not a depressive disorder.
More recently, she started noticing that she was not able to stop feeling depressed many times for more than two weeks at a time.
She was crying easy and was not able to enjoy time with her kids or other activities that used to give her joy. Her sleep and appetite were affected, and she was not able to think and concentrate as before; which was affecting her work. She started feeling guilty and worthless, and sometimes she started questioning life or wishing for death.
Her stress reactivity had changed into depressive disorder.
She did not recognize for some time until a friend sent her a video link from the World Health Organization ( WHO)’s “Depression: let’s talk” campaign. Roxanne had tears in her eyes as she could see herself in this video; I Had a Black Dog, His Name Was Depression by writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone on the
signs and effects of depression.
She answered these nine questions from a clinically verified depression screening tool PHQ9
When she saw that she had met 5 out of the nine criteria for more than two weeks, she realized that she might have developed mild depression. Although these symptoms were not present all the time, she did not want to allow them to get worse. She wanted to do everything in her power to prevent further suffering but was afraid of how her friends, family, or co-workers would react if they found that she was seeking help.
She was going back and forth about seeking help when she came across a tweet about a woman’s email asking for a mental health day off that was going viral.
It inspired her to take care of her mental health because she realized that if she took care of herself, she would be able to take better care of her kids, family, and work. She was able to find a great psychotherapist who helped her come out of depression. She did not even need any medications. Life had a new meaning for her. She started enjoying, playing with her kids, listening to music and being productive at her work.
Roxanne continues to work on her mental resilience and shares her learning and resources with her friends and family. She shares the five signs of mental illness she learned from the Campaign to Change Direction. This encourages all Americans to pay attention to their emotional well-being and reminds us that emotional well-being is just as important as physical well-being. She has also joined the local chapter of NAMI ( National Alliance for Mental Health)
Like Roxanne, you can also choose to help yourself and the people you care about. If you see any signs of clinical depression, you can take steps to get better and prevent the depression from getting worse as she did.
For your ease, let me summarize the steps here:
Manage your stress before it manages you. Many resources are available including the book www.stresstojoy.com
- Recognize Depression. The video sponsored by WHO can help; “I had a black dog; Its name was depression.” by writer and
illustrator Matthew Johnstone on the signs and effects of depression.
- Identify if you have developed depression by taking this nine-item depression screening test. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/calculator-depression-screening-by-a-nine-item-patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9-in-adults
- Seek help from a psychotherapist near you or on your insurance network. Some of the therapists are also available at our clinic www.shifahealth.org
- Continue to build mental resilience and take care of your mental health like this woman https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/07/11/mental-health-day-tweet-shows-whats-wrong-mental-health-care/468145001/
- Help others by increasing awareness by participating in campaigns like http://www.changedirection.org/ and joining organizations like NAMI ( National Alliance for Mental Health) https://www.nami.org/
If you don’t take care of your early symptoms of depression, it will not only cause increased suffering, it can also cost you loss of your job, your relationships, and possibly your life. Your happiness and your life are more important than what others may think about you seeking help. If you do take care of your mental health, you will be able to save your life and prevent suffering for yourself and your loved ones.
The above blog is part of a series on Depression. The first one was https://drrozina.com/blog/signs-of-depression/. You can read other blogs by visiting https://drrozina.com/blog/
Please share this resource to help those that may be suffering from depression.
Let me know what you found most useful and if you have any questions.
Dedicated to your health and happiness,
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I share many tools and techniques that I have found to be helpful. They are not intended to replace treatments. Please seek treatment from licensed medical or health professionals as needed. I change all names for privacy.