We hear the term depression thrown around often. It’s one of those clinical terms that has made its way into the mainstream and become colloquial language. As a result, we know that depression refers to an intense change in your mood where your feelings of excessive sadness and a loss of motivation peaks. We have all felt it at one time or another, whether it was while coping with grief or due to dealing with it on a daily basis. But what if you aren’t sure how you’re feeling? What if you aren’t sure if you are experiencing depression? Or maybe you are able to identify how you feel, but you aren’t sure if you should be asking for help or if it’s something you can manage alone. When you're home trying to figure out where you stand, use this quick barometer to see if it’s time to ask for help.
Gloomy day, but generally ok: This person may feel a little down from time to time, but overall, they feel good. They are able to shift their mood by turning on some music, watching their favorite show, or just doing something they enjoy. They may feel depressed at times or find themselves in their bag of feelings, but it does not consume them. The days or moments where they feel depressed are so few that they can specifically identify them. They respond well to self-help treatments and encouraging conversations with friends and family.
Cloudy day, not always ok: This person feels sad or unmotivated more often than they would like to. They will even disappear from friends and social events periodically due to their mood. They have some issues with their self-esteem often have a more negative outlook on life. Their day to day functioning can be difficult, but somehow they find a way to get through it. They are often easily irritable and can be more sensitive than others. They attend work/school and other general responsibilities, but often wish they could just be a home, in the bed, due to their mood. They may even have some of the physical characteristics such as muscle tenseness or digestive issues, but it is not debilitating.
All clouds, gone dark: This person will completely disappear for long periods of time, due to their mood. They will miss important obligations such as school or work and may even be terminated due to their performance issues. They may seriously consider suicide as they believe that no one really cares about them or they question the point of their very existence. They may feel hopeless and have absolutely no motivation to participate in activities that they used to enjoy. They may feel intense sadness for long periods of time without the ability to truly describe it to others. They may even describe the feeling as being “numb”. They may cry excessively and without proper provocation.
So what do we do? We get help. We open up to someone and describe how we’re feeling. We contact a helping professional and schedule an appointment to be seen.
We stop living in the dark, damp cave and we allow someone to walk with us until we can tolerate and eventually enjoy the sunshine.
There’s no reason to suffer in silence. If you find yourself not really feeling like yourself, speak up.