Everyone has their ups and downs, but how do you know when it's more than just regular life stuff? Sometimes it can be hard to tell, especially if you have been feeling that way for a long time. Here are a few ways that depression can show up in your life. Remember, everyone's experience will be different, and having a few or all of the below experiences doesn't necessarily mean you have depression. But if these sound familiar, it may be worth talking to a friend, a family member, or a mental health professional about it. Getting out of these habits can be simpler than you think!
Loss of interest
Hobbies are more than just a way to pass the time. They can help us connect with others, expand our creativity, relieve stress, or give us a goal to work toward. They can be something you prefer to do on your own or as part of a group. A balanced life includes making time to do what you love just for fun. If you can't remember the last time you did something for fun - or even what your hobbies are - set aside a few hours this week to have some fun!
Trouble sleeping or getting up
You already know whether you're a night owl or an early bird. Have you become both? Neither? Are you tempted to sleep in every day, or do you find it hard to shut off your mind at night? Sleep is so important for your mood, your brain functioning, and your overall physical health. If you frequently stay up later than you planned, or your morning routine is getting shorter and more rushed, start paying attention to your sleep habits and your morning/evening rituals. Showering at night vs. the morning, reading a book or magazine instead of looking at a screen, and 3-minute meditations are all ways to manage your sleep.
Irritability is a very powerful signal of changes in your mood. It's one of those things that sounds like a small issue, but is definitely a tell-tale sign. Of course, we all get irritated sometimes. For people with significant changes in their mood, irritability becomes more frequent, noticeable, and difficult to let go of. Start noticing if you are short with others, getting easily frustrated, or overly critical. One way to counteract irritability is to practice mindfulness with day-to-day activities. Reduce multi-tasking and take the time to focus on the task at hand. This can be a meal, doing a household chore, or yes, even driving. Noticing how each of your five senses is engaged will help you slow down the critical voice in your head and help you feel more generous and calm.
You're not usually the flaky friend, but it's been hard to commit to events. It's more tempting to stay home and zone out on TV, movies, video games, or the internet. You don't feel like you can put your "social face" on and make small talk. What would you even talk about? This is more than simply being introverted. If you find yourself pulling away from friends (individually or in groups), try reaching out to one person. Sometimes the guilt or embarrassment of isolation builds up in our minds, and we think it's a bigger deal than it is. Set up a friend date for tomorrow, or three weeks from now. Choose a date, time, and location you know you can stick to. Catching up with a good friend just once can help break through your alone-time-streak and make it easier to get back to being yourself.
Keep in mind that having a string of bad days doesn't necessarily mean you're depressed. Everyone has their own habits! But if you're experiencing a few of the items on this list, and you notice they are interfering with your day-to-day life, it try a few of the tips mentioned above. You don't have to overhaul your life. Little changes often make the biggest impact.
If you haven't been feeling like yourself lately, and you're interested in talking about how therapy might help, call (562) 704-4736 for a free consultation. Prospect Therapy welcomes individuals of all genders and orientations in Long Beach, CA.
*If you are feeling especially down or having difficulty managing any emotion, text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 anytime, 24/7. You can also contact the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 between 8am and 2am PST