by Haesue Jo, MA

Haesue Jo, MA, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with years of experience providing individual and family therapy in community mental health, school settings, day treatment facilities and currently works at BetterHelp. Her current clinical focus includes working with individuals with a variety of presenting problems, including anxiety, relationship and family issues, trauma, community violence, gender identity, and depression.

Depression is a disorder that can affect everything you do in your daily life. It is not something you can quickly recover from, like a cold or stomach bug. Many people with depression think they are just feeling sad, and that it will go away with time. For some people, it does just that. But for 15 million others, depression is a constant feeling that does not go away on its own. These people are the ones who may benefit from extra support and help. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that depression is the second greatest reason for disability in the world. Unfortunately, only 10% of these people ever receive any effective treatment.

Are You Depressed?

So, how do you know if you are just sad or if you are suffering from depression? The main thing to remember is that if you have been feeling sad or depressed for more than two weeks, you may have depression. Some other symptoms include:

  • Sad or empty feeling for over two weeks
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Losing interest in things you usually enjoy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea, headaches, chronic pain
  • Change in sleep (sleeping too much or not sleeping at all)
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Stressed out or anxious
  • Irritability or anger
  • Constant fatigue
  • Thoughts of suicide

How Does Depression Affect Your Daily Life?

Depression can impact every area of your life, including but not limited to how you sleep and eat, your education and career, your relationships, health, and concentration. Individuals suffering from depression often also have comorbid disorders, such as alcohol and drug abuse or other addictions. Depression doesn’t just occur for an individual in vacuum; it can affect your friends, family, co-workers, and everyone around you. In addition, depression may impact how you perform at work or your levels of concentration, so it can negatively affect productivity. Leaving depression untreated can lead to many other complications in one’s personal and professional life. This is why it is so important to seek out help, not just for relationships and work, but for your own sake.

What You Can Do

Talk to someone in your family or one of your friends. You can talk to your doctor, human resources at work, or a therapist. If you do not want to speak to someone face-to-face, you can talk to someone online. Actually, psychiatrists have been using videoconferencing for therapy for over 50 years. There are licensed professionals online that you can talk to without an appointment or you can speak to them on the phone or text. The fact is, the sooner you start getting treatment, the sooner you will start feeling better. Do not ignore it and just hope it goes away.

Self-Treatment

You can also spend more time with your pets. Studies have shown that 74% of people with pets report having mental health improvements from owning a pet. While this is not a substitution for therapy, it has been shown to be a big help to almost everyone studied. Also, it helps to talk about it. No matter who you talk to, or if you just write it down on paper, it is therapeutic to write it, say it, and just let it out.

Regardless of what you choose to do, make sure you take the time to talk to someone about what you are feeling. Depression can be treated and managed by therapy and/or medication. The NIMH estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That's 6.9 percent of the population. You are not alone.