Depression is one of the leading causes of disabilities worldwide. Although it is a common disorder, many people have a hard time distinguishing whether their feelings of sadness stem from the difficulties they face in life or if they are attributed to clinical depression. If you think you are struggling with depression, it is important to be able to recognize the warning signs.
What Is Clinical Depression?
There are several different types of depression, including bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, persistent depressive disorder, major depression, postpartum depression, and psychotic depression. The most common form, and the one most associated with feeling blue, is major depressive disorder. A person might have one long-running bout of depression, or they might have several recurring episodes over a longer period of time.
What Are the Diagnostic Criteria for Depression?
The American Psychiatric Association developed certain criteria to assist medical professionals to determine whether a patient has major depressive disorder. For a diagnosis, you must have five of the following symptoms for two weeks or longer.
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Inability to pay attention or concentrate
- Poor sleep, insomnia, or excessive sleep
- No longer interested in favorite hobbies or activities
- Unexplained weight changes
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Becoming more or less active than previously
- Fatigue or listlessness
- Feelings of worthlessness or poor self-esteem
- Feelings of hopelessness or sadness
For many people struggling with depression, these symptoms get in the way of their ability to function. It might impair their relationships, job performance, and more.
What Signs Point to Mental Illness?
When you go through a difficult time, you might experience many of the same symptoms mentioned above. Almost everyone will encounter some of these symptoms at least once in their life, although perhaps not at the level of someone with clinical depression. Many tough times in life last two weeks or more, making it that much harder to recognize whether you have depression or not. So, how do you differentiate your blue feelings with major depressive disorder or one of the other forms of clinical depression?
The best way is to screen yourself or a loved one using the above diagnostic criteria. If you feel that you might meet the criteria for major depressive disorder, then contact your primary care physician or a mental health professional. They provide a good first line of inquiry to determine if your symptoms stem from the difficult time you face in life, another health condition, or depression. They can help you to determine the best course of action in order for you to get better.
It is possible to overcome depression with the right treatment. At Mazzitti & Sullivan, we provide mental health services to assist those with major depressive disorder and other mental health conditions. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our trusted counseling service.