A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

How to know if you have depression

Sadness, negative feelings, body aches and sleep problems can start after an event like the loss of a loved one or an illness. They can also creep up over time with no known cause. Having these feelings lead many to ask, “How do you know if you have depression?”

Woman sitting on couch with her head leaning back - Depression in adults

It’s possible to be depressed without feeling sad. Irritability, worry and guilt also are signs of depression.

“When feelings of sadness or hopelessness persist and start impacting day-to-day functioning and responsibilities, seeking help is recommended,” said Rebeca Argiro, licensed professional counselor with Marshfield Clinic Health System.

A range of symptoms

A person who has gone through depression or lived with someone who was depressed may recognize the symptoms sooner than someone who hasn’t.

Common signs to know if you have depression include:

  • Prolonged sadness or grief
  • Unexplained crying
  • Irritability, agitation or anger
  • Worry or anxiety
  • Pessimism or negative feelings
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Guilt about things you have no control over
  • Thoughts of suicide or not wanting to be around
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Sleep problems

People experience depression differently. You may not have every symptom on the list, and you may not consistently be telling yourself “I feel depressed.” It’s very possible to experience depression without feeling sad all the time.

If you’ve been having symptoms for a while, don’t wait for them to go away, even if you can connect the symptoms to a certain event. Untreated depression can get worse over time.

No one-size-fits-all treatment

Treatment can be different for each person. Seeking help doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to take medication for life.

“Accepting that the symptoms you are experiencing are clinically significant and getting help to combat those is the first step,” said Argiro. “Simply taking that step will help increase life satisfaction overall.”

Some people can manage symptoms without medication through talk therapy and coping techniques. Others need medication or even inpatient hospital treatment for more severe symptoms.

Treatment won’t change your mood right away, but you should talk to your health care provider if you don’t notice any changes after a few weeks. Your provider can help you find something that works.

Support loved ones with depression

“Oftentimes the stigma around mental health prevents individuals from getting the help they need sooner,” said Argiro.

Offer to take loved ones to appointments and encourage them to continue seeking help, but realize you can’t fix it for them.

“Discussions and conversations about mental health need to be candid and incorporated into a well-rounded health care approach,” said Argiro. “If you do not know how to access behavioral health, talk to your family doctor and work to find the right approach that you feel comfortable with.”

For questions about depression, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

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  1. Jan 20, 2017
    • Jan 23, 2017

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