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I was about 21 when I decided to get professional help for my depression. I know there were several factors that gave me the push I needed to get help. However, the best thing that pushed me was a close friend who saw the signs. She suggested I seek a therapists assistance. It was probably one of the smartest decisions I had ever made in my life. But in kind, it was one of the most difficult. Having experienced how difficult it can be to realize that you need help, I decided to put together a list of signs that will help you realize if you need to get professional help for depression.
Start with the Obvious.
Realizing that you may have depression is the first step in realizing that you may need help with it. Especially, if the depression is severe. If you aren’t sure if you have depression at all, take this quiz to help you figure it out. *Please note, I am not a therapist or licensed psychiatrist and cannot diagnose depression. This quiz is meant to show that there is a possibility that you could have depression.
You feel *suicidal or have constant thoughts of death. I know this one might seem obvious, but when you’re the one having these thoughts, it can be easy to just brush it off. I had thoughts of suicide for years and years. I’d even had a few suicide attempts. Yet I still didn’t think I needed professional help. Thinking I could just deal with it on my own or that these thoughts and feelings would just go away, was a mistake. If you have any kind of thoughts or feelings like you want to kill yourself, that is a big flashing bright sign that you need to seek professional help. It can be so difficult to take that step, but trust me, it is so worth it.
Phone a Friend.
As I mentioned above, I had a really good friend who saw signs of depression in me (I’ll get to those below) and suggested I seek some professional help. It took the opinion of someone looking in from the outside to give me that push I needed. It was difficult to hear, but I needed to hear it. If someone is telling you they think you may need some help, listen. Don’t take offense. Realize they may be seeing something you are not. And more often than not they are coming from a place of love and concern and really just want the best for you.
Listen to Your Body.
One of the clues my friend noticed in me was my lack of normal energy. I was usually so energetic and upbeat. When depression hit and decided not to leave, it seriously depleted my energy stores. I didn’t realize it right away, because it was fairly gradual. It wasn’t until my friend pointed it out that I was like, yeah, I do feel tired and drained all the time now. If you are feeling like you have no energy, no matter what you do (i.e. sleeping more, eating right), then take notice. If this lack of energy and enthusiasm has been persistent for several week’s, that’s a clear sign that something may be up.
The sun is shining, but you don’t care.
My friend had asked me if I wanted to go to a movie with her. I told her I wasn’t sure and that I’d get back to her. Let me make a side note that this was a much-anticipated movie that I really wanted to see. But I just wasn’t feeling it. Things that I normally loved to do now were not interesting to me anymore. I just didn’t want to do anything but sleep and lay in bed and do nothing. This one can really creep up on you and sometimes it may take a friend to help you realize what you’re doing. If the things you love no longer excite you and you find you’re having no interest in doing them, take note. This can be a pretty good indication of depression.
When depression was at it’s worst with me, everything seemed to move in slow motion. I literally felt like a sloth. I moved a lot slower, talked slower and thought slower. I’m sure this had a lot to do with the lack of energy I had but it was just crazy to think back on it all and realize that I was moving so slow. Sluggishness can be a subtle indicator that depression is really starting to affect your body and you’ll need some professional help to get out of it.
God forbid anyone pisses me off.
This one is probably a fairly obvious one, but it can be very difficult to pick up on. Especially if you’re female and get moody around that time of the month. However, if “that time of the month” seems to last longer than the few days it normally does and let’s say lasts more like several weeks. This could be a good indication of something lacking in the mental health area. I swear, any and every little thing set me off. There was this one time my ex-husband was 10 minutes late getting home from work and I literally flipped out on him. This is not something that I would normally do. Another sign, was I would cry at the drop of a hat to practically anything. I accidentally stepped on a butterfly and I cried for like 2 hours. It was horrible. If you notice that little things are affecting you in an overactive way, this is a very good indication that you may need some help.
How to get professional help.
For a lot of people, it can be extremely difficult to ask for help. There can be other factors that make it difficult as well. But when it comes to getting help for mental illness I try to think of it this way. We have no problem seeking professional help when something physical fails us, like a sore throat or sprained ankle. We should have no problem getting professional help when we’re struggling mentally. It’s no different and both aspects can severely affect us not just mentally but physically as well.
Don’t think of getting help as defeat. Think of it as courageous. Realize that depression is very serious and it kills far too many people. The best way to find someone who can help you is to ask someone you know or trust for recommendations. Ask your personal care physician. They can refer you to a therapist who can help you get diagnosed and receive therapy. Your doctors can work together to come up with the best treatment plan for you. Depending on the severity, you could also be prescribed anti-depressants to help. Don’t feel defeated by this. Prescriptions can save your life.
Talking to a therapist can be extremely healing. They can help you work through any past hurts, traumas and/or triggers that may inflame your depression. It really is ok to ask for help. A great resource for therapy that I’ve found is Better Help. However, please note that just doing therapy or just taking medication may not be enough. You may need to do a combination of both as well as other lifestyle changes like eating healthy, reducing alcohol, meditation, affirmations, journaling or more. Every individual is different and I encourage you to keep trying to find your perfect mix of remedies. But know, that it may take more than one.
*If you or someone you know need immediate help please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There’s also an online chat option.
Please note that most of the above signs alone aren’t necessarily an indicator you need professional help. Most in combination with each other indicate a need. Also, I am not a licensed professional and you should always seek the advice and diagnosis from a doctor. My posts are based on my own personal experiences and are not meant to diagnose.
If you’re looking for something that can jump-start your journey into healing depression, check out the 5 Day Bliss Challenge. This challenge gives you daily tasks to complete that will move you in the right direction to finding your bliss. Sign up now!