There is a difference between feeling depressed and having depression, which makes it hard to figure out what we need right now when - doesn't everybody feel like crap?
What you are feeling right now might be the entirely normal reaction to this currently abnormal world. Here is what's happening: everybody is experiencing trauma at the same time. Exhaustion, trouble concentrating, insomnia, hopelessness, these are common physical, emotional, and cognitive reactions to trauma. They are also symptoms of a depressive episode. And depression, the illness of depression can lead to serious complications, substance abuse, relationship problems, suicide. Not to mention that it simply sucks the joy out of living. Depression, the illness needs to be treated.
So do you need to see a doctor? It depends. A recent New York Times article can help you sort it out.
Here is a self-diagnostic test. If your symptoms are not severe, Dr. Joshua Gordon, director of NIMH, the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests trying some self-care strategies, exercise, social contact (even a phone call might help), healthy diet, regular sleep routine. It isn't easy to do these things when you are feeling depressed. But each healthy action makes the next one easier. Push yourself a bit. Maybe you can turn this thing around!
Not this. This will give you a three minute lift followed by the pit of despair. If you don't believe me, go ahead and try it. And then wise up. Just as each healthy step reinforces the next, setting a healthy direction, so also each stupid step sets an unhealthy direction and makes it harder to recover.
This really isn't a good time to be stupid about your health. There's a lot at stake. When things feel hopeless, you are tempted abandon all those difficult measures that are keeping you alive until a better day comes.
People with recurrent suicidal ideation have talked about COVID as a potential exit. Seriously. Those of you who are new to these hopeless thoughts might not recognize the siren call. Pay attention, or you could end up letting that mask slip, with consequences you never really thought through.
So what if these self-care measures aren't turning it around? What if it keeps getting worse or you're already in the "severe" category according to that self test?
Dr. Gordon says, "If you really can't sleep, your appetite is changing, you can't function, can't work, can's take care of your kids or grocery shop, that's a sign you need professional help."
There is help out there. You can start with your primary doc. You can text 741741 to reach a crisis counselor. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255. I have more suicide resources on this page.
Gordon gives a Find a Therapist website in the NYT article. I am not providing a link, because it lists no therapists that deal with depression in a 50 mile radius of my hometown. Many times these data banks are woefully incomplete and out of date. And I just don't want to expose you to that frustration. Call your doctor first.
Here is the pro tip: If you're wondering, 'Why should I get out of bed or reach out for help?' Gordon concludes, those very questions are symptoms of your disorder.
Depression is a liar. It fills your head with ideas that ARE NOT TRUE. Don't die for these lies. Contrary to what it tells you, you do deserve to feel better, there is help available, as close as your phone, the hospitals are receiving patients with depression. If you need it, ER is open for you.
And, if right now you feel like whale shit on the bottom of the ocean, you can get better anyway. I'm rooting for you.
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