Depression: When to get help

For people with depression, life can be an uphill battle.  Sometimes it will feel like a mountain to climb.  There is help, and accessing support is importation if you are not able to manage the symptoms on your own.  Having depression is different from being sad.  As human beings, we have a range of emotions through the day.  We get angry, sad, happy, and frustrated, sometimes in just over an hour.  Having depression, clinical depression, makes it hard for people to get out of bed, hold a job, and manage responsibilities.  If that is you, get help and support.  You don’t have to manage it alone.

Being sad is normal in conjunction with an event, such as moving, a death of a loved one, financial issues, or other short term events.  The average person is able to manage the sadness, and get through the event, moving on to a more stable mood.  He or she may access support around them, do things that help them to put the event in perspective, and adjust to the new normal.  They have hope that things will improve and are able to wake up and feel like things will be okay.

For those who are  living with depression, everything changes.  The feelings of hopelessness tend to be overwhelming and they struggle to feel that things will be okay.  They wake up in the morning, feeling that the day won’t go well, and feel that there is nothing they can do to fix it.  They don’t feel that there is anything that can help, and are overwhelmed with the feeling that there is no hope for them.

There is hope, and with the right support, people living with depression can feel better.  There is  more information around depression these days than in the past, and more ways to manage  it.  However, the person living with depression can sometimes get stuck.  It takes a great deal of courage for them to reach out and ask for help, most just live with the illness.  There are 5 key points that will help you, and the people around you, know when to seek help from a professional.

1.       Depressed mood most of the day, every day

2.       Diminished interest in activities most of the day, every day

3.       Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day

4.       Fatigue or loss of energy, nearly every day

5.       Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, every day

(Symptoms taken from the DSM 5, 2013, the mental health diagnostic manual)

If you or someone you love can answer yes to the points above, it’s time to get support.  Start with your doctor, but be honest with them about your symptoms.  Tell them how you feel, and don’t sugar coat anything!  They need to know the details or they will have trouble providing the level of support you need.  Your doctor may recommend medication, counseling, or a combination of the two.  Some people respond well to counseling and don’t need medication.  Others need medication to manage a chemical imbalance.  Either way, talk with your doctor about what will work for you.

If you at any time feel that there is no way out, and have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, present to your local emergency room or call 911 and be transported to your local emergency room for further evaluation.   When you have depression, it can feel overwhelming.  Get help immediately, don’t wait for an appointment with your doctor.  You can be evaluated in the emergency room and they can assist with getting you set up with a mental health professional in your area.

Living with depression is not easy.  Feeling hopeless and helpless is a struggle that no one should have to manage alone, but there is help.  Ask for help, and be honest about how you feel.  Things can get better, if you do.