- I was told I didn’t have a reason to be depressed
- Why Am I Depressed?
- Take the Depression Test
- The Different Types of Depression
- Am I Depressed?
- How do I know I am feeling depressed?
- Depression: What You Need to Know as You Age
- Why Do People Get Depressed?
I was told I didn’t have a reason to be depressed
You have bad days. Your car doesn’t start, you’re late to work, you miss a meeting – it’s a bad day. You just want to get home, put your feet up and write it off because tomorrow is a fresh start – an opportunity to reset your mind and put yesterday down to “just one of those days.”
Tomorrow you get to work on time, you go into a meeting and give an outstanding performance, your boss pulls you to one side and talks about a possible promotion. You text your partner who wants to take you for a celebratory dinner. You show up to the restaurant and he’s there with flowers and a ring – he proposes to you. Your day could not have gone better. But you go home, and you cry yourself to sleep. You wake up feeling empty. You feel heartbreakingly sad and you have no idea why. You convince yourself he doesn’t know you, because if he did, he would never want to marry you. If people at work knew what you were really like, they wouldn’t promote you. They would fire you.
They would fire you, because you are worthless. He would leave you because you are fundamentally unlovable. But to the outside eye, your life could not be more perfect, and there is no logical reason why you shouldn’t be ecstatic. At your engagement party you fake a smile and tell everyone how incandescently happy you are, but it is all a lie. You smile because you should. You tell people you are happy because that is how you should feel. But you don’t. There is a gaping sadness in you, which is there for no reason at all.
And no one can see it, so maybe it’s just you. Maybe something’s wrong with you. What possible reason do you have to be sad? And you feel ashamed. So you don’t say anything to anyone. Because when you have in the past, they’ve said – “What reason do you have to be sad?” “You should be grateful, some people have it much worse.” “You don’t look like you’re depressed.” “Everyone has a bad day, you’re just overreacting.” So you stay silent. You internalise the struggle. You fight it alone.
How do you explain something you don’t understand? How do you tell people how you feel when you don’t feel anything? And when you do feel, it is an onslaught of self-loathing and unparalleled sadness.
You go into work the next day, and you don’t have the energy to lie. You don’t have the energy to pretend to be okay. So you excuse yourself and you go to the bathroom. You make sure no one else is in there, you lock yourself in a stall and collapse onto the floor, crying uncontrollably. You struggle to catch your breath and you panic because you cannot get enough oxygen to your lungs. You cry more. You panic more. You start to remember every bad thing that’s happened in your life, every negative comment, every failed relationship, every single thing that happened which is all your fault. You cry until your facial muscles cramp, until you can catch your breath long enough to remember where you are.
And you sometimes even calm yourself down by telling yourself it won’t last forever, that you can make it all end. You pick yourself up off the floor, readjust your clothes, wipe your tears and open the door. And someone is standing there. Someone is standing there looking at you. But they are looking at you with compassion and understanding. They are looking at you because even though they don’t understand what you feel, they understand that you are in a lot of pain, and you cannot see a way out. That you are struggling. So they step forward, place their hands in yours, and ask for your story.
I look up at them, fresh tears in my eyes. I prepare to confess. I prepare to hear the same responses that I have heard since I was 15 years old. But I take a deep breath and tell her. I tell her and I close my eyes. Waiting for the disappointment. But she says nothing. I look at her and she’s crying. And she tells me that she believes me. The weight lifts off my chest. The guilt and the shame I had been carrying around for 10 years had almost gone. Because I knew there was something wrong with me, and she believed me.
We go for a drink, and she asks me when this all began. We sit for hours. She asks me how I feel. She cares. She gives me her number and tells me to contact her when I need to talk to someone. It is a lifeline. It is renewed hope that with the help of someone else, I can be better than this. I can live a better life than this. I can overcome this. And it all started when she placed her hands in mine.
Why Am I Depressed?
Depression can certainly be caused by life events or situations, such as during the loss of a loved, after losing your job, while getting a divorce, or when bills pile up and you can’t see a way out from under them. But some people experience depression symptoms without being able to pinpoint an obvious cause.
“There are many cases in which a person is feeling depressed and they may not know why,” says Felicia Wong, MD, a psychiatrist in practice in Los Angeles. In fact, people who go through major depression often don’t have a situational cause, says Dr. Wong. “Situations such as a divorce or a loss can exacerbate depression, but there are people who get depressed for no apparent reason.”
Research shows that there is no one cause of depression, but rather, there are many factors — genetic, environmental, and psychological — that can cause feelings of depression, says Joseph Shrand, MD, medical director of the High Point Treatment Center in Brockton, Mass.
“There are some people whose life can be perfect,” says Dr. Shrand, “but they have this sense of gloom and doom.” Just as some people are susceptible to diabetes and high blood pressure, some are susceptible to depression, which is a disorder like the others, but it affects the brain, Shrand explains.
Symptoms of Depression
When family and friends ask you what’s making you depressed, it’s okay to be honest and say you don’t know. If you are feeling depressed for a prolonged period of time, you should get evaluated by a mental health professional, especially if you experience any of these depression symptoms for more than two weeks:
- Having persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless
- Being irritable
- Losing interest in activities that you normally like and enjoy doing
- Being tired and having little or no energy
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Having difficulty sleeping or sleeping all the time
- Eating too much or not eating at all because you’ve lost your appetite
- Having thoughts of suicide
- Having physical pain such as headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not respond to treatment
Finding Effective Treatment for Depression
Because of the stigma associated with mental health disorders, some people are reluctant to seek treatment for depression. However, feeling depressed doesn’t mean you have a character flaw or that you’re inadequate in any way. If you have feelings of depression and they don’t go away, you should take action, Shrand says.
Since depression causes can affect treatment, it’s also important to determine whether a situation or a predisposition to depression is the cause of your overwhelming sadness. “If a person is feeling a little down, but they can identify the reasons why, they might be able to make adjustments in their lives to cope with it,” Wong explains.
But if you continue to feel depressed for prolonged periods of time and you can’t figure out why, you should seek the help of a mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker. “It can be difficult to get out of a depression on your own,” Wong says. “But there are trained professionals who can help you through those difficult phases and back to your normal, happy self.”
Treatment for depression often includes medication, such as antidepressants; lifestyle recommendations, including exercise, stress management, and dietary changes; and psychotherapy to help uncover the cause of your depression. Putting your feelings into words can be very powerful, says Shrand. And with professional help, appropriate treatment, and the right lifestyle changes, you can improve your mood and overcome your depression.
Take the Depression Test
Depression strikes millions each year, often with debilitating consequences. This psychological disorder is so common that it is sometimes referred to as the “common cold” of mental health, with nearly 10% of the population suffering from a depressive disorder at any given time. (source: National Institute of Mental Health)
Depression has a high cure rate. Effective treatments exist to help bring people’s lives back under control. Yet tragically many people suffering from this illness go without diagnosis and treatment. This depression test is a tool that may help you recognize the symptoms of depression and decide to get help. Please note that only a licensed professional can diagnose depression.
Are people more depressed on Mondays?
The Different Types of Depression
Depression is classified in a number of ways. The types of depression that this test looks for are: major depression, bipolar disorder, cyclothymia (a milder form of bipolar), dysthymia (or chronic depression), postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Each one presents different symptoms and represents a distinct diagnosis. You can learn more about each of these types of depression after you take the test and get your results. Please note that other variants of depression exist which are not tested for on this web site.
Am I Depressed?
Based on your answers to the questions on this page, some follow-up questions will be asked. Please click the button marked “Continue to Next Page” to complete the second part of the depression test.
How do I know I am feeling depressed?
Share on PinterestIt can be hard to explaining how depression feels to someone who has not experienced it.
One of the common misunderstandings about depression is that it’s similar to feeling sad or down.
Although many people with depression feel sadness, it feels much more severe than emotions that come and go in response to life events.
The symptoms of depression can last for months or years and can make it difficult or impossible to carry on with daily life.
It can disrupt careers, relationships, and daily tasks such as self-care and housework.
Doctors will usually look for symptoms that have lasted at least 2 weeks as possible signs of depression.
Depression may feel like:
- There’s no pleasure or joy in life. A person with depression may not enjoy things they once loved and may feel like nothing can make them happy.
- Concentration or focus becomes harder. Making any kind of decisions, reading, or watching television can seem taxing with depression because people can’t think clearly or follow what’s happening.
- Everything feels hopeless, and there’s no way to feel better. Depression may make a person feel that there’s no way ever to feel good again.
- Self-esteem is often absent. People with depression may feel like they are worthless or a failure at everything. They may dwell on negative events and experiences and be unable to see positive qualities in themselves.
- Sleeping may be problematic. Falling asleep at night or staying asleep all night can feel nearly impossible for some people with depression. A person may wake up early and not be able to go back to sleep. Others may sleep excessvely, but still wake up feeling tired or unrefreshed, despite the extra hours of sleep.
- Energy levels are low to nonexistent. Some people feel like they can’t get out of bed, or feel exhausted all the time even when getting enough sleep. They may feel that they are too tired to do simple daily tasks.
- Food may not seem appetizing. Some people with depression feel like they don’t want to eat anything, and have to force themselves to eat. This can result in weight loss.
- Food may be used as a comfort or coping tool. Although some people with depression don’t want to eat, others can overeat and crave unhealthy or comfort foods. This can lead to weight gain.
- Aches and pains may be present. Some people experience headaches, nausea, body aches, and other pains with depression.
Many people mistakenly believe that being depressed is a choice, or that they need to have a positive attitude. Friends and loved ones often get frustrated or don’t understand why a person can’t “snap out of it.” They may even say that the person has nothing to be depressed about.
Depression is a real mental illness. Those who have depression cannot simply decide to stop feeling depressed. Unlike typical sadness or worry, depression feels all-consuming and hopeless.
Depression: What You Need to Know as You Age
Cardiovascular (car-dee-oh-vas-cue-ler) disease: Problems of the heart or blood vessels, often caused by atherosclerosis—the build-up of fat deposits in artery walls—and by high blood pressure, which can weaken blood vessels, encourage atherosclerosis and make arteries stiff. Heart valve disorders, heart failure and off-beat heart rhythms (called arrhythmias) are also types of cardiovascular disease.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Two different psychotherapies—cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy— in one. Cognitive therapy can help you improve your mood by changing unhelpful thinking patterns. Behavioral therapy helps you identify and solve unhealthy habits. When used in conjunction with each another, these therapies have been shown to improve problems such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, insomnia and eating disorders.
Heart palpitations (pal-peh-tay-shuns): The feeling that your heart is thumping, racing, flip-flopping or skipping beats. Strong emotions, caffeine, nicotine, vigorous exercise, medical conditions (such as low blood sugar or dehydration) and some medications may cause heart palpitations. Call 911 if you also have chest pain, shortness of breath or unusual sweating, or feel dizzy or faint.
Immune response: How your immune system recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, toxins and other harmful substances. A response can include anything from coughing and sneezing to an increase in white blood cells, which attack foreign substances.
Interpersonal therapy (IPT): A treatment often used for depression that lifts mood by teaching you how to relate with others in a healthier way. A therapist will help you identify troubling emotions and their triggers, express emotions in a more productive way and examine past relationships that may have contributed to your current mental health issues.
Lean protein: Meats and other protein-rich foods low in saturated fat. These include boneless skinless chicken and turkey, extra-lean ground beef, beans, fat-free yogurt, seafood, tofu, tempeh and lean cuts of red meat, such as round steaks and roasts, top loin and top sirloin. Choosing these can help control cholesterol.
Omega-3 fatty acids (oh-may-ga three fah-tee a-sids): Healthy polyunsaturated fats that the body uses to build brain-cell membranes. They’re considered essential fats because our body needs them but can’t make them on its own; we must take them in through food or supplements. A diet rich in omega-3s—found in fatty fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel, as well as in walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil—and low in saturated fats may help protect against heart disease, stroke, cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
Whole grains: Grains such as whole wheat, brown rice and barley still have their fiber-rich outer shell, called the bran, and inner germ. It provides vitamins, minerals and good fats. Choosing whole grain side dishes, cereals, breads and more may lower the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer and improve digestion, too.
Why Do People Get Depressed?
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Depression affects people of every age, economic situation, and race. Even though depression is common — especially in teens — some people get depressed but others don’t. Why?
There’s No One Reason for Depression
Lots of things influence whether a person gets depressed. Some of it is biology — things like our genes, brain chemistry, and hormones. Some is environment, including daylight and seasons, or social and family situations we face. And some is personality, like how we react to life events or the support systems we create for ourselves. All these things can help shape whether or not a person becomes depressed.
Research shows that depression runs in families. Some people inherit genes that contribute to depression. But not everyone who has a family member with depression will develop it too. And many people with no family history of depression still get depressed. So genes are one factor, but they aren’t the only reason for depression.
Chemicals called neurotransmitters (pronounced: nur-oh-TRANZ-mit-urs) help send messages between nerve cells in the brain. Some neurotransmitters regulate mood. When a person is depressed, these neurotransmitters might be in low supply or not effective enough.
Genes and brain chemistry can be connected: Having the genes for depression may make a person more likely to have the neurotransmitter problem that is part of depression.
Stress, Health, and Hormones
Things like stress, using alcohol or drugs, and hormone changes also affect the brain’s delicate chemistry and mood.
Some health conditions may cause depression-like symptoms. For example, hypothyroidism is known to cause a depressed mood in some people. Mono can drain a person’s energy. When health conditions are diagnosed and treated by a doctor, the depression-like symptoms usually disappear.
Getting enough sleep and regular exercise often has a positive effect on neurotransmitter activity and mood.
Daylight and Seasons
Daylight affects how the brain produces melatonin and serotonin. These neurotransmitters help regulate a person’s sleep–wake cycles, energy, and mood. When there is less daylight, the brain produces more melatonin. When there is more daylight, the brain makes more serotonin.
Shorter days and longer hours of darkness in fall and winter may lead the body to have more melatonin and less serotonin. This imbalance is what creates the conditions for depression in some people — a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Exposure to light can help improve mood for people affected by SAD.
The death of a family member, friend, or pet sometimes goes beyond normal grief and leads to depression. Other difficult life events — such as when parents divorce, separate, or remarry — can trigger depression.
Whether or not difficult life situations lead to depression can depend a lot on how well a person is able to cope, stay positive, and receive support.
Family and Social Environment
For some people, a negative, stressful, or unhappy family atmosphere can lead to depression. Other high-stress living situations — such as poverty, homelessness, or violence — can contribute, too. Dealing with bullying, harassment, or peer pressure leaves some people feeling isolated, victimized, or insecure.
Situations like these don’t necessarily lead to depression, but facing them without relief or support can make it easier to become depressed.
Reacting to Life Situations
Life is full of ups and downs. Stress, hassles, and setbacks happen (but hopefully not too often). How we react to life’s struggles matters a lot. A person’s outlook can contribute to depression — or it can help guard against it.
Research shows that a positive outlook acts as a protection against depression, even for people who have the genes, brain chemistry, or life situations that put them at risk for developing it. The opposite is also true: People who tend to think more negatively may be more at risk for developing depression.
We can’t control our genes, brain chemistry, or some of the other things that contribute to depression. But we do have control over how we see situations and how we cope.
Making an effort to think positively — like believing there’s a way around any problem — helps ward off depression. So does developing coping skills and a support system of positive relationships. These things help build resilience (the quality that helps people bounce back and do well, even in difficult situations).
Here are three ways to build resilience:
- Try thinking of change as a challenging and normal part of life. When a problem crops up, take action to solve it.
- Remind yourself that setbacks and problems are temporary and solvable. Nothing lasts forever.
- Build a support system. Ask friends and family for help (or just a shoulder to cry on) when you need it. Offer to help when they need it. This kind of give and take creates strong relationships that help people weather life’s storms.
Being positive and resilient isn’t a magic shield that automatically protects us from depression. But these qualities can help offset the other factors that might lead to trouble.
Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD Date reviewed: August 2016