How do you know when you’re depressed? How do you know if what you’re feeling is the normal consequence of your current circumstances in life? How do you know if it’s more than just having a string of lousy days?
Depression isn’t like a sprained ankle. With a sprained ankle, you are very much aware the moment it happens. People see you limping and ask you what’s wrong, and you think, “Isn’t it obvious? I sprained my ankle.”
It would be nice if depression were like a sprained ankle. Fixing a sprained ankle is pretty straightforward – bind it up to support it, and stay off it until it heals. But what do you do with depression when it’s hard for you to pinpoint where it really hurts and your life isn’t really something you can “stay off” of until you feel better.
Most people who experience symptoms of depression but keep powering on anyway get used to the feeling of walking around with the weight of the world on their shoulders. I means, it’s not the end of the world. The sun still comes up every morning, and so do they, in a manner of speaking. They’re still walking around, functioning at some level, even though walking feels like its through really thick sand that clings to their feet and makes each step an effort. They get used to thinking “This is just the way life is.” They stopped looking for happiness a long time ago. They’re just trying to make it through the detour of depression, who cares about the destination?
Here are the signs and symptoms of depression as outlined by the National Institutes of Mental Health:
– persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
– feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
– feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
– loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
– decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
– difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
– appetite and/or weight changes
– thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
– restlessness, irritability
– persistent physical symptoms
If you believe you are suffering from depression, take our depression survey, and know there is hope. I know because I’ve been through the valley myself.
This might be the greatest challenge of your life, but it is one that will renew your strength so that you will be able to “soar on wings like eagles…run and not grow weary…walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
The above is a compilation of excerpts from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s Moving Beyond Depression: A Whole-Person Approach, Happy for the Rest of Your Life, and Overcoming Anxiety, Worry and Fear: Practical Ways to Find Peace.