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Being diagnosed with depression is a one-time thing, but living with depression is an ever-present struggle.

Depression impacts how a person participates in and enjoys everyday activities, and if you feel like your lust for life has been dulled, you might have clinical depression. In this article, we’ll explore what depression is, the signs of depression and the best options for treatment.

This article is by no means a clinical tool for self-diagnosis. Only a medical or mental health professional can provide a truly accurate diagnosis and the best help for your condition. Self-diagnosis can actually be harmful and this information should only be used for reference and as a launch point if you think you need professional help.

If after reading you’re still unsure if you could be affected by depression, call (678) 274-4936 to get a professional opinion.

How do I know if I have depression?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition), or the DSM V, is a tool published by the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose and recommend treatment for mental disorders. According to the DSM V, a person is experiencing depression when he or she meets five or more of the following symptoms in a two-week period, and the symptoms of depression impair daily functioning.

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities
  • Significant changes in weight
  • Significant changes in sleep
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Thoughts of death or suicidal ideation

If you have experienced many of these symptoms of depression and they’re not caused by another condition, you likely meet the criteria for a diagnosis and should seek help.

What are the signs of depression?

The clinical definition of depression as stated in the DSM is listed above, but what are some signs of depression to look out for (without all the technical jargon)? If you’re wondering what other behaviors and signs are indicative of depression, here’s a few things you might notice.

  • Statements that are self-deprecating, like “it’s all my fault” or “why even try”
  • Changes in friend groups or not spending time with loved ones
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Anxiety (anxiety and depression have high comorbidity rates, the same goes for substance abuse and depression)
  • Increased frustration
  • Talking slowly
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Poor performance in work or school
  • Self-harm
  • Planning a suicide attempt

If you or another is having thoughts about suicide or has made a plan to attempt suicide, get help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at (800)273-8255, or call 911.

What treatment options are available for depression?

Hopefully, individuals will engage in treatment before emergency intervention is necessary. Treatment can prevent depression from becoming severe, and with the right support, anyone can learn to manage depression and lead a fulfilling life.

There are numerous options for treatment. The most common model is a combination of therapy and medication, but treatment may include other options as well. The most common treatments for depression are as follows.

  • Talk therapy (also called psychotherapy)
  • Antidepressant medication (according to Mayo Clinic, anxiety medications or mood stabilizers may improve the effectiveness of antidepressants when approved and prescribed by a psychiatrist)
  • Residential treatment programs
  • Brain stimulation therapy
  • Changes in lifestyle habits (healthy diet, for example)

There are dozens of other tools people can learn to lessen depression, including self-care and coping skills. Regardless of what you add to your regular treatment, it’s important to know that living (and thriving) with depression is possible, and with the right support, it gets easier and easier every day.

A silver lining for those struggling with depression

When you have depression it can feel like there’s no end in sight. Although some symptoms of depression may linger even with the best treatment, there are evidence-based practices that have been proven to decrease the severity of depression so people can lead happy lives.

Getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in safe and proper treatment. Although this article should give you a good indication of what the signs and symptoms of depression are, getting a professional opinion is the first stepping stone to a free and full life regardless of mental illness.

Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare can offer you the support you need to get on the path toward that life you’re looking for.

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