Have you found yourself wondering more than once, “Am I depressed?”
First things first, mental health issues are common and are nothing to be ashamed of. Thanks to the likes of celebrities including Amanda Seyfriend, this condition, plus anxiety, and the use of antidepressants is all becoming much less taboo.
The latest research from Oxford University, published in The Lancet, has even found that more than one million extra people would benefit from being prescribed these drugs. The study found that of the 21 antidepressants trialed, every one performed better than a placebo. Meaning hope for the 300,000 people in the UK for whom mental health has cost them their job.
Before you go to your doctor or ask friends “Am I depressed?”, it’s important to figure out the variations between depression and feeling sad.
Research from Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, found “an inability to distinguish between negative emotions such as guilt, anger, and frustration, may be a hitherto undiscussed symptom of depression.”
Of seven negative emotions, those with depression found it much harder to tell the difference.
Read on for more key symptoms to look out for.
AM I DEPRESSED?
Beth Murphy, Head of Information from mental health charity Mind, says: “It’s normal to feel a little low at this time of year. The weather is miserable, days are shorter and going back to work after a break such as Christmas is always going to be tough.”
Unfortunately there is no clear-cut test for depression, but the two main signs to watch out for according to Murphy are withdrawing from life and hopelessness.
“Firstly, not being interested in things that you’re normally interested in, for example not taking part in social activities and hobbies or even not being able to go to work – withdrawing from your life a little bit,” says Murphy.
“The second thing is hopelessness,” she adds. “If you’re feeling very low and hopeless and saying things like, ‘I can’t see the point anymore,’ then that’s another sign to watch out for.”
Other symptoms might include disruption to sleep patterns, loss of interest in sex, feeling numb or feeling disconnected from people, not picking up on social cues the way you normally would, and difficulty concentrating.
Find out about coping with depression.
According to the World Health Organisation, the condition affects 300 million people worldwide. But how do you differentiate between depression (which is an illness) and “the blues”?
Depression vs Sadness
According to Mind, it’s about the impact your feelings are having on your life and the length of time that you’ve been feeling that way.
Murphy says: “If it’s stopping you from doing the things that you normally would be doing or if you feel low for two weeks continuously, then we recommend thinking about getting support.”
If on the other hand you feel blue after getting some bad news or for no reason in particular, but the feelings get better or don’t last then you’re probably just going through a normal rough patch.
“If you’re feeling down for a few days but then after a week you feel better, then it could be that life’s just a bit rubbish right now,” says Murphy.
But here’s some good news. While feeling sad is painful (and well, sucks), there are numerous studies that show that feeling sad is actually good for you.
A recent Australian study showed that bad feelings improved people’s memories, possibly because sad people are more attuned to their environments, whereas happy people just “go with the flow.”
Meanwhile another study from the University of Columbia argued that feeling sad makes us more creative, by being more detail oriented and focused.
So maybe it’s okay to feel a little blue this now and then. Or maybe you feel down now but you know that a change in career or a relationship boost is just what you need to feel better. That’s fine too. But if it’s more than that, speak with your GP or visit the Mind website for more information.
Are Women More Depressed Than Men?
In 2012/13 figures from NHS clinics across England showed that the vast majority of those referred for NHS counselling for anxiety and depression were women. Out of the more than 750,000 people who were referred, 62% were women.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that women are more likely to suffer the mental health conditions. Women may just be more likely than men to seek help.
“Statistics say that women are more likely to suffer from depression, but in reality women are more like to see their GP and ask for advice while men are more likely to ‘self-medicate,’ by for example going to the pub,” Murphy says.
Need ideas on how to cope with depression? Or how to help someone with depression? Let us help. Here’s 7 celebs on how they overcome and manage depression.