How do I know if I am depressed?
Every year more than 17 million Americans suffer from clinical depression. It strikes men, women and children of all races and socio-economic groups, causing them to lose motivation, energy and the pleasure of everyday life. Clinical depression often goes untreated because people don’t recognize its many symptoms. Many people suffer from mood swings to one degree or another. If you or a loved one has mood swings you may find the information at PsychEducation.org helpful. The good news is that almost everyone who gets treated can soon feel better.
Checklist of ten symptoms of clinical depression:
A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
Sleeping too little or sleeping too much
Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
Restlessness or irritability
Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment (such as headaches, chronic pain, or constipation and other digestive disorders)
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
Thoughts of death or suicide
If you experience five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily routine, please seek help from us, your doctor or another qualified mental health professional.
Depression is marked by a persistent sad mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in most activities. Other symptoms which may occur with depression are changes in appetite or weight, changes in sleep patterns, noticeable restlessness or decreased activity, loss of energy or feeling tired, difficulty in concentrating or making decisions, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt.
Research has shown that the most effective treatment for depression is a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication. In addition, for mild to moderate depressions, aerobic exercise is the best natural antidepressant; provided it is done vigorously enough and often enough. Such exercise increases production of endorphins, the brains own opiate-like molecules that are associated with some of our best natural highs. To produce this effect you need to do 30 minutes of sustained aerobic activity at least five days a week, with clearance from your doctor. Your effort must be great enough to get your heart rate up, accelerate your breathing, and make you sweat. It can take several weeks before the antidepressant effect is experienced. But you should feel better if you continue long enough. If you are prone to depression, exercise of this sort is also the best preventative.
If you regularly experience depression during the winter you may be reacting to the reduction in the amount of daylight. This condition is known as SAD, seasonal affective disorder. You may be able to eliminate this effect by exposing yourself to bright light that is balanced to mimic natural daylight. If you suffer from this condition you can try light supplementation by renting a light unit from NHPA to see if it is helpful before you purchase one.
Appointments are available in our offices near Pittsburgh in Wexford, Robinson Township, and Squirrel Hill.