Have you ever wondered, “Am I depressed?” If so, this article will highlight some common signs, types, and causes of depression in order to help you assess whether or not you may be experiencing symptoms of depression. Also, some next steps will be given to provide you with options on what you can do to seek help for depression.
Depression can take a toll on you mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, and spiritually. Dealing with depression can make it difficult to handle every day activities or responsibilities. Some people may think that depression is just feeling blue and sad, but there is more to it.
Symptoms of Depression
Do you feel fatigued no matter how much or little sleep you get? Do you find yourself not having any interest or motivation to participate in hobbies or activities that have generally brought you joy in the past? Are you experiencing the feeling of being stuck with a sense of hopelessness in your life?
You may feel numb or overwhelmed and not want to get out of bed in the morning. You also may be very good at hiding how you are feeling inside so that people around you don’t notice how much you are struggling. You may feel helpless or lonely, even when surrounded by other people.
Here is a list of common symptoms to help you answer the question, “Am I depressed?”:
- Loss of interest in hobbies and low motivation
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating and memory problems
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Persistent aches, headaches, and digestive issues
- Feelings of guilt and/or shame
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Even with a list of common symptoms, depression can manifest differently in different people. It will not always look the same from person to person because someone may have some of the symptoms that another may not. In fact, even two people experiencing the same symptoms of depression may see the manifestation of that symptom differently.
One of the most common symptoms of depression is the guilt and shame that can accompany you in the struggle. You may feel bad about not being more productive in some aspect, or feel shame that you are having depressive symptoms at all. This is how the depressive cycle can spiral you into a further, deeper depression. Not having motivation to do what you once wanted to do or need to do, followed by then feeling ashamed that you were not able to accomplish what you wanted can feel helpless.
Things can lose meaning and become very isolated for fear of others finding out about your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Those thoughts and feelings of guilt can take up a lot of your mental energy throughout the day and begin to make you feel weighted down. It can even feel difficult to try to describe to someone you love why you are feeling the way you do.
Different Types of Depression
According to the American Psychiatric Association, there are several different types of depression, including:
- Major depression
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Bipolar depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Postpartum depression
- Situational depression
- Atypical depression
Each of these specific types of depression can present differently, for different lengths of time, and with varying severities. For example, major depression is characterized by low mood and several of the above listed symptoms for at least two weeks or longer.
Seasonal affective disorder tends to occur at the same times every year and is closely related to changes of seasons. Generally, this type of depression is experienced particularly in the fall and winter months and can be treated with therapy, medications, and even light therapy.
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that affects 1 in 8 women after childbirth. This type of depression can be severe, long lasting, and affect a mother’s ability to be able to care for herself, her child, and her family.
As you can see, among each type of depression, the symptoms, timing, and severity can vary greatly. It is important to reach out for help and support if you think you may be experiencing depression.
An essential thing to remember is you are not alone. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health states that between 5-12 percent of the general population will experience an episode of major depression, making it one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States.
Consulting with a mental health professional can help you more fully understand what type of depression you may be experiencing. Depression counselors are able to work with you to find out what type of treatment will work best for you.
The type of depression you may be suffering from will determine which type of treatment plan that a counselor will create for you as an individual in order to provide the best care for your story as well as understanding, relief, and healing from some of your symptoms of depression.
Why Am I Depressed?
When you ask the question “Am I depressed?” you may not be able to tell right away whether you are experiencing the symptoms. You may not even know why. Researchers and psychologists have been wondering the same thing and looking for an exact reason for quite some time.
But maybe instead of “Am I depressed?” your question has morphed into “Why am I depressed?” Although there is not an easy answer, there are complex and diverse reasons why you may be experiencing symptoms of depression. An episode of depression may be brought on by stress, health issues, bereavement, or hormones, just to name a few causes.
By yourself or with the help of a counselor or trusted friend, you may have found a consistent pattern of circumstances or conditions over a period of time that you have noticed lead to experiencing symptoms of depression, but overall the scientific community has not yet found an exact cause of depression. In any case, it is important to seek help, and reach out for support with your depression.
Symptoms can seem to come out of nowhere and become overwhelming, even crushing. It is best to find help from a counselor before depression escalates from mild to severe. Seeking help from a Christian counselor can be supportive and valuable in coming alongside you in your struggle with depression affecting your everyday life as well as your walk with the Lord.
What Will Christian Counseling Provide?
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4
As children of the Lord, we are overcomers, not by our own strength, but by the power of the Lord residing inside of us. The burden of depression can be a heavy one, but together as Christ followers, we can carry one another’s burdens as it says in Galatians 6, to strive to fulfill the law of Christ.
Just as you are not alone in your struggle, you are not alone in your healing journey. I know God can heal you and bring you out of this period. He has overcome the world, and that most certainly includes depression.
To be clear, depression is not a character defect or a sin that needs absolution. You may be feeling guilty from thinking that if you just had a little more faith or tried harder, you would be better, but all that is doing is placing more guilt on yourself. In counseling, I create a safe space for you to explore and be honest about your feelings without any condemnation or guilt.
In the Bible, David wrote of suffering and lamentation that was beyond description and he is still described today as a man after God’s own heart. Depression may tempt you to distrust the Lord, but His promises are true. Jesus knows what it is to suffer and He provided us the ultimate restoration from it.
Know that God’s love and faithfulness are, thankfully, not ever dependent on us. Sometimes with depression, it can be difficult to do the things we wish, such as being in the Word, praying, or even trusting in Him. But He will not leave or forsake us. He loves you and is with you always. He is an abundantly gracious God who is able to handle our doubts and frustrations, even in what seems like our darkest moments. It is simply who He is and what He does; He loves us.
Jesus is the ultimate light into our darkest times. His hope is powerful and He can use counselors to bring that hope to those who are struggling. You are not alone, God sees you, and brings hope even within the depths of depression. As a counselor, I will walk with you, meeting you exactly where you are, just as Jesus modeled, and let you know that there is hope for relief from your depression.
What Can I Do to Treat My Depression?
Answering “yes” to the question “Am I depressed?” can be a difficult thing, but it is the first step toward wellness. Although it can feel as though you are the only person having to deal with your symptoms, trust me, you are not.
There are resources and ways to help you overcome this period. Meeting with a counselor can aid in bringing some clarity by asking questions and finding out which type of depression you may be experiencing. Once we figure out what type of depression you are struggling with, we can together make a treatment plan tailored to you and your process.
As a counselor, I want to help you explore what you are experiencing both in your internal and external worlds in order to begin to gain understanding about yourself and current circumstances that may be affecting you. I am intentional in creating an atmosphere for you to process your thoughts and feelings in a safe space.
Knowing that depression can be a difficult thing to walk through, we will go at your own pace forward in your healing journey. Reaching out for support can be intimidating, but allowing another Christ-follower to walk beside you and assist in your healing is what we are created to do. We are made for community and helping you feel less isolated in your depression is essential for recovery.
Also in sessions, I will help you to examine current thoughts and behaviors that have been negatively impacting you and then assist you to understand how you are able to control them yourself, eventually without my assistance. We also will work together to identify unhealthy patterns in your life, whether that be in relation to your diet, relationships, negative self-talk, or in other areas in your life. Learning to identify your own patterns of struggle and implementing healthy coping skills will help you to combat symptoms of depression.
Did you know that the way that we eat has an impact on our mood? Eating healthy not only does well for our physical bodies, but also for our mental health. Sometimes, if we are not eating well and not getting proper nutrition that our body requires, our body can manifest its lack of nourishment with depressive moods.
Occasionally, our bodies need assistance in regulating hormones or chemical imbalances that require medications. A counselor can help you to prepare to talk to your doctor or a psychiatrist, if that is indeed a step that is necessary for you in your process toward wellness. Know that just because you are depressed, does not mean you automatically require medication; many people can benefit from therapy as well as lifestyle changes including exercise, change in diet, reducing life stress, etc.
If you can answer “yes” to the question, “Am I depressed?” please do not ignore these feelings and symptoms. You are not alone, and help is available. I encourage you to reach out to us at Seattle Christian Counseling and set up an appointment with a counselor you feel comfortable with. Do not be afraid to reach out to a Christian counselor to come alongside you in your struggle with depression. Do not wait until things are unbearable. Help is here for you.
“Green Leaf Trees on Forest,” courtesy of James Baker, bestreviewsbase.com, via Flickr Creative Commons, CC by 2.0; “Autumn Selfie,” courtesy of Tom Hall, Flickr Creative Commons, CC by 2.0;