Do you suspect that you or someone you know has depression?
Getting diagnosed or otherwise accepting it may sound like a prison sentence, but it’s actually a huge relief. One of the hardest things about having depression is the ability to recognize when you have it initially, and then also noticing when it’s getting worse and what might be the cause. Oftentimes it can go unnoticed until the point where lack of motivation can be a hindrance in seeking help, or support has been diminished due to strained relationships. The sooner you realize what the underlying problem is, the better.
I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m able to see these things in myself more easily and therefore counteract them, but this isn’t true for everyone. It certainly took me long enough to figure it out. Even for those who suspect it and conduct research on their own via Google or otherwise, much of what they read is very clinical. In an attempt to have a more relatable collection of personal accounts, I utilized an anonymous online survey program to pool insights from whoever I could reach via Facebook with four questions.
It is my hope that these personal observations on both the darker side of depression and the side of relief from people who have experienced it firsthand will hit home with those who may not have sought help yet, and show them that they are most definitely not alone.
1. What thoughts or behaviors do you notice in yourself when your depression symptoms are getting worse or at their worst? Specifically, do you experience anything that few to no other people you know have been able to relate to?
“I know my depression symptoms are getting worse when I have little interest in my favorite activities and isolate myself from those I usually enjoy spending my time with. I have a hard time explaining to others why I hate being alone with myself yet that’s all my depression wants me to do.”
“My self-analyzing and self-hatred increases.”
“I either eat more than usual, or barely eat at all.”
“The first thing I notice is that I start to lose energy and want to stay in bed more. I also don’t want to cook or clean as much, though if I can get myself to just begin I’ll continue and be glad that I did. My memory and motivation start to slip away. I won’t eat for much of the day then binge later.”
“I get extremely tired and have no energy.”
“I feel like even eating is hard work and I can’t get up in the morning even though I’m not tired.”
2. Does anything in particular trigger your depression symptoms?
“I notice seasonal changes when winter begins and I’m always stuck inside and it’s harder to go out and stay active. When I’m under a lot of stress my anxiety takes over and depression is right there to follow.”
“Lack of sleep and interaction with people because I’m so awkward.”
“The three biggest things that trigger my depression symptoms are lack of sleep, eating unhealthy, and feeling alone.”
“If I start losing sleep it triggers bad habits of skipping class and pushing off my responsibilities, which just stresses me out more. I’m also kind of paranoid so if I over-analyze a situation and worry about it too much, that in combination with other things can cause a period of worse depression than usual.”
“Weather and school stress trigger them.”
“The weather does.”
3. What techniques do you use to lessen your depression symptoms?
“Counseling, telling family or friends, exercise, reading, sorting through the reality of negative thoughts I have, force myself to get up and go even when it seems impossible, give myself breaks to enjoy simple things like music, food, or other activities I like, even a short walk on the days that are hardest and trying to keep sleep consistent.”
“I attend therapy, journal, listen to music, and color.”
“I try to get my sleep schedule back to normal, I confide in friends and family, and I become more aware of my diet and try to eat healthier and drink more water. I force myself to get out of bed and shower before I get caught up in watching Netflix or playing on my phone. I do something that I enjoy but haven’t done in a long time, like play my ukulele. Since messy areas and disorganization stresses me out, I clean and sort out whatever I can. Occasionally I will visit a therapist to get my thoughts out to a professional.”
“I reach out to family and go for a run.”
“Family, meds, therapy, playing violin, writing.”
4. What do you notice about your behavior and your life when your depression symptoms lessen or go away altogether?
“I feel like I have energy to get through the day and have motivation for things to come, I can see the future as hopeful rather than hopeless, and I engage in activities that make me happy and spend more time with friends.”
“Mine never go away, but when it’s not as bad I have a lot more energy and enjoy being active.”
“I’m much more productive and happy, and I interact more with others.”
“I get things done right away instead of pushing them off, I can socialize with others more easily, and I feel proud of myself and my accomplishments instead of putting myself down. I also have much more energy.”
“I feel energized and don’t feel that cloud hanging over me.”
“Doing the little things is a lot easier, like getting out of the house to go to class and getting course work done. Even just eating a meal instead of a snack happens more when I’m feeling better.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression and would like to seek help, please visit ADAA.org/finding-help.