Everyone feels lousy sometimes. Everyone experiences days when they just don’t want to get out of bed, when they’d rather just roll over, pull the covers up over their head, and call in sick to their life.
Depression is more than an occasional I-don’t-want-to-get-out-of-bed day. Depression is a condition marked by three characteristics: frequency, severity, and duration.
To help figure out if you are depressed, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- How often does this happen? (frequency)
- How bad is it when it happens? (severity)
- How long does it last when it happens? (duration)
The more it happens, the worse it is, and the longer it lasts, the more likely you are not just having a bad day—you are dealing with depression.
But what exactly is depression, especially when everyone has bad days, and people come in all sorts of emotional shapes and sizes? Depression is an overall category of specific feelings and behaviors. However, if you are depressed, that depression may look very different from your cousin’s or aunt’s or the person’s down the street. Trying to compare the way you feel, and matching it up with how someone else feels, may not help define whether or not you are depressed.
Instead of comparing one person to another, try comparing the way you feel with the following two lists. The first I call my Yellow List, which describes symptoms that signal caution, and a need to be monitored.
As you look over the following Yellow List, a word of caution is needed. Some Yellows can be tricky to identify, because they may have been present in your life for a long time. You may be so used to these Yellows they have become normal for you. A Yellow is not normal if it follows the three characteristics of depression symptoms: frequency, severity, and duration.
Here are items in the Yellow List:
- A loss of enjoyment in established activities
- Feeling restless, tired, or unmotivated at work
- An increase in irritability or impatience
- Feeling either wound up or weighed down
- Feeling overburdened with life and its activities
- A lack of spiritual peace of well-being
- A constant anxiety or vague fear about the future
- A fear of expressing strong emotions
- Finding relief by controlling aspects of your personal behavior, including what you eat or drink
- Feeling unappreciated by others
- Feeling a sense of martyrdom, as if you are constantly asked to do the work of others
- Exercising a pattern of impulsive thinking of rash judgments
- Apathetic when you wake up in the morning about how the day will turn out
- A sense of enjoyment at seeing the discomfort of others
- Anger at God for how you feel
- A recurrent pattern of headaches, muscle aches, and/or body pains
- Feeling left out of life
- Feeling trapped during your day by what you have to do
- Experiencing recurring gastrointestinal difficulties
- Feeling like your best days are behind you and the future doesn’t hold much promise
- Displaying a pattern of pessimistic of critical comments and/or behaviors
- Bingeing on high-calorie foods to feel better
- Feeling social isolation and distancing from family or friends
- Feeling that it’s easier to just do things yourself instead of wanting to work with others
- Feeling old, discarded, or without value
- Feeling trapped inside your body
- Dreading the thought of family get-togethers or social gatherings
- Feeling overweight, unattractive, or unlovable
- Sexual difficulties or a loss of interest in sexual activities
- Unmotivated to try new activities, contemplate new ideas, or enter into new relationships
Living in the Yellow means diminished joy and fulfillment, yet some people seem to live in that zone for a long time, finding ways to cope until the accumulated weight of despair or a sudden, traumatic life event propels them into a deep depression.
You can survive in the Yellows for quite a while, but that’s not really living. This may seem like bad news, but it’s actually good news. You weren’t meant to live a life of mere survival, and you don’t need to.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. The Center was recently voted one of the Top Ten Facilities in the United States for the Treatment of Depression. Break free and achieve peace. Call The Center at 1-888-771-5166, or fill out this form to connect with a specialist.