Depression is one of, if not the most common mental illness seen by mental health physicians today. I am working in a clinic in order to get required hours needed for my licensure to become a Professional Counselor. I can affirm that almost every person that walks into our clinic suffers from some form of depression. When I suffered from panic disorder with depression, I learned that 10 million Americans took the specific medication that I was given. Depression is widespread. If you are suffering from the disease called depression, you are not alone. There are millions of people being affected by it daily.
What is depression? How do you know if you have it? Depression can be misdiagnosed and misunderstood by many people, including professionals. One time, Ashley (my wife) thought she was depressed. She was experiencing some difficult circumstances. Unbeknownst to her, I bought a puppy and I was going to surprise her the next week with him. However, when she told me she was depressed, I told myself, “I’ll show her she’s not depressed. I'll give her the puppy." So that’s what I did. I showed her the picture of our pup, and surely enough, her mood instantly switched from sad to joyful. Even though she may have felt demoralized during that season of life, Ashley was not depressed.
I’ve written down a few ways you can know if you might be depressed or not. (Information comes from the latest version of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM). There are different types of depressive disorders, but here are some ways you could be diagnosed from what is called major depressive disorder:
1. You feel in a sad mood for most of a day, every day, and others would confirm that as well
2. You don’t care about every day activities for most of the day, almost every day
3. Decrease in appetite and significant weight loss
4. Insomnia or hypersomnia almost every day
5. Agitation in your motor skills or feeling like you can think straight, nearly every day
6. Loss of energy
7. Feelings of worthlessness or heavy guilt almost every day
8. Inability to be decisive nearly every day
9. You think about taking your life or you attempt to actually take your life
If you are like me, after reading that list, I would think I have major depressive disorder. However, before you diagnose yourself, know that the DSM states, in order to officially be diagnosed, you must exhibit five of these characteristics together for two weeks at least, along with a few other requirements. It can be complicated to actually get a diagnosis of depression. Hopefully by reading this post, you can see that depression is not just a petty thing that happens a result of a middle school girl getting dumped by her boyfriend. If you’re struggling with depression, ask people you trust for recommendations of a local, reputable professional counselor. You're not alone.