Sad, Moody, Tired, Feeling Down – Could it be Depression?

While there is much good advice available online regarding emotional health, it is important to understand that professionals are frequently a vital component for managing emotional health if you feel depressed. Consider the following tips to better clarify what you are feeling.

You are the best one to determine whether you’re feeling differently than you typically feel. This basic piece of knowledge can help you begin to clarify what’s different in how you feel. If you’ve lost interest in something that usually makes you happy consider whether there might be logical reasons why such as physical changes or situational changes. If you are suddenly living alone and you used to cook for the other person who used to live with you it is not necessarily a sign of depression that you no longer like to cook. Similarly if your joints have begun to hurt after jogging so you find yourself avoiding this exercise it also is probably not a symptom of depression. If there are logical reasons for your loss of interest in certain activities, try some new activities. And if you’re willing to try some new activities such as dining out at neighborhood restaurants or doing lower impact stretches and workouts, then you probably aren’t depressed.

Proper sleep is essential to feeling well. When our sleep is disrupted it can affect our physical and emotional health. If your sleep pattern has drastically changed, speak to your physician. Likely your physician will first make certain there are no physical reasons for the change in your sleep pattern which will require a checkup. Secondly, consider other resources such as consulting with sleep experts about your sleep. Finally understand that if you’ve reduced your exercise regimen or simple aging, these too can disrupt your sleep. Similarly if you’re worried about a job or an individual your sleep habits may change. There are a tremendous number of physical and emotional things that can affect your sleep that are not depression. This does not mean that you shouldn’t address your change in sleep pattern because sleeping well is part of your general wellness.

If you find yourself feeling frequently overwhelmed or hopeless, first consider whether there have been situational changes that likely would produce these feelings. Whether it’s taking care of an ailing parent or taking on too much responsibility or struggling with financial challenges, there are many occurrences that contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed or hopeless. However, if you find that these feelings are persisting for any significant length of time then it is advisable to reach out for additional help. This help can take the form of counseling or even a visit to your physician. You will likely be asked to describe what these feelings are translating to in terms of actions that you’re taking to overcome these feelings or whether these feelings are interfering with your day-to-day activities.

Depression can also involve feelings of anger and if you find yourself getting angry more often reach out for help sooner rather than later. Anger is an emotion that everyone has but can be dangerous to others when inappropriately displayed or handled. Understanding your anger and the best way to cope with it is part of everyone’s life but if you notice that you’re lashing out at people verbally more frequently seek assistance. This is important not only for your well-being but for the well-being of those with whom you come in contact. While you can work on your feelings, relationships that are ruined because of inappropriate behavior are often more difficult to repair. It is important to note that anger can be displayed in nontraditional ways such as other behaviors that illustrate an uncaring attitude to the people you are involved with in everyday life.

Loneliness is often a part of depression even when there are people around. However, people who are alone are not always lonely. If you are more of a loner and you’re not feeling like yourself, try getting out more. If you can make yourself get out and see the world you are likely not depressed. Make new friends, join a group and maintain your personal space. If you find yourself declining invitations and avoiding social contact when you hadn’t done this before in your life, reaching out for some counseling help is definitely appropriate.

If you find that you’re taking more sleeping aids, drinking more alcoholic beverages or are using other substances, it is best to get help immediately from professionals. The last thing you need is a physical problem caused by substances you wouldn’t normally put into your body if you were feeling well. Self-medication or feeling tempted to self-medicate are immediate signs that you should seek some outside assistance.

Depression can often sap strength and therefore individuals use fewer calories and are less hungry. However there are also those who eat more as they substitute food for other things. If you’re experiencing a big shift in your appetite or eating habits, consider trying to change these. If you don’t feel like you care about your increased or decreased appetite, consult someone who can help you get back to healthy eating. Healthy eating cannot only be interesting as you shop for and prepare healthful foods, but will make your body feel better which often leads to feeling better emotionally.

If you find yourself thinking about injuring yourself or others, immediately go to an emergency room. Do not worry about scheduling an appointment or meeting with your therapist or waiting on the availability of your good friend. One of the most heroic actions you can take on behalf of yourself and others is to know when you need help.

Depression is a complicated diagnosis but the frequency with which the general public uses the terms has helped to formulate certain criteria that can be warning signs that what you’re feeling is not just a bad mood. When in doubt seek help from physicians, psychiatrists and counselors. In a crisis do not hesitate to go to an emergency room. The first step is to realize that emotional pain and imbalance is real and should not be treated like a pretend ailment.

Understanding what you’re feeling is important whether you are assessing yourself or communicating what you’re feeling to others. Use the checklist above to consider as you address feelings of depression.

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