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Depression: How do I know if I have it? How do I treat it?

How do I know if I’m depressed?

How do I know if I’m depressed?


What is depression?

The term “depression” gets thrown around quite a bit.  You’ll often hear people say they’re depressed about failing a test or get depressed every time they hear a certain song, perhaps.  The words “depression” and “sad” are not interchangeable, as far as clinical psychology goes.

Everyone gets sad from time to time and that’s quite healthy.  While some negative emotions are uncomfortable, our ability to trudge through them is telling about our mental health and emotional stability.

Depression is a whole different ballgame.  Depression doesn’t have to be triggered by any particular life event and can show up for no apparent reason.  It can linger for days, weeks, months, or even years at a spell.  Depression can be very mild and hardly noticeable.  It can also be very severe, making life extremely difficult and limited.

So how do I know if depression is what I’m dealing with?

Some of the most common complaints from individuals suffering from depression are:

  • lack of enjoyment in things you used to find enjoyable
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • eating too much or too little
  • crying for no apparent reason
  • irritability
  • brain fog
  • no desire to live
  • thoughts of suicide
  • little interest in hygiene and cleaning
  • angry outbursts
  • lack of motivation
  • lack of energy

At it’s worst, depression can manifest itself as suicidal ideation, or thoughts of suicide.  Individuals who find their thoughts turning to plans for suicide, feeling as if the world would be better without them, or severe self-harm should seek help immediately from a nearby emergency room or mental health facility.  Thoughts of suicide should never be taken lightly and are a warning sign that you’re suffering severely.

So what can I do to feel better?

There are many options for treating depression and effectively managing symptoms.

Antidepressants are a great option for moderate to severe depression and can help knock the edge off of symptoms during an episode.  Antidepressants are not generally addictive and there are many to choose from, depending on the chemical imbalance in your brain and any medication interactions your doctor may be concerned about.  You should see your primary care physician for a prescription since counselors cannot prescribe medication.  You can also read more about various medications and side effects here, at the Mayo Clinic website.

Another helpful avenue for treating depression is counseling.  While no counselor has a magic wand to wave and make their clients immediately feel better, we really wish we did!  Counseling can help with coping skills and dealing with underlying trauma.  Very often, depression is a symptom of a more serious problem such as unresolved trauma history.  Your counselor can help pinpoint the issue and find ways to feel better over time.  You can find a counselor in your area at the Psychology Today therapist finder.

Some individuals with mild to moderate depression find relief in a wide range of non-prescription, non-clinical ways.  Exercise, essential oils, meditation, yoga, and treating nutritional deficiencies have all shown to be helpful for sufferers.  Sometimes depression can be caused by something as simple as a magnesium deficiency.


If you suspect you may be dealing with depression, please consider reaching out to your primary care physician and a licensed counselor in your area.

If you’re in the Longview/Henderson, Texas area, I would love to work with you.

You can reach me by phone or text at 903 392 6151, email at Jodi.A.Spencer@Gmail.com.  You can also read a little more about me at my Psychology Today profile or my about page.


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