Six ways to tell if you are mildly or moderately depressed
Are you depressed? How do we know the difference between an ‘off’ day or days, or if it’s something more?
Well, everyone feels low sometimes. We’d be pretty strange if we didn’t respond emotionally to life’s situations. However, if your low feelings simply won’t go away, and you start to notice other changes in your behaviour, patterns or emotions, it could be that you are experiencing mild to moderate depression. If you are, don’t worry, it can be helped in a natural way to help you to cope and then to start to feel better.
Depression is divided into three levels – mild, moderate, and severe. The levels are measured by the impact that the depression has on daily life: some impact, significant impact or in severe cases, the impact is so great that everyday life has become practically impossible. The signs I’m talking about here are potential indicators of the first two levels.
I want to make it clear at the start that even though these changes may be unusual for you, they’re not unusual in themselves. If you recognise any of the signs as changes you are experiencing yourself, or you’ve spotted them in a friend or family member, please remember that with help, you can overcome all these.
The list is not exhaustive; however here are some of the main signs to look out for.
1. You’re not as interested in things you used to enjoy
Cast your mind back to that feeling as a child, when you really couldn’t be bothered going to swimming lessons, or brownies, or scouts, or whatever it was. When you got there, you always remembered that actually, it was fun, and you simply hadn’t wanted to go because you felt a bit tired.
Imagine feeling like that as an adult, a lot of the time, about a lot of things. Except that now, you don’t bother going. Things that you usually enjoy just feel like too much effort. At times when you can’t even raise the enthusiasm to watch a TV programme, hobbies such as sports are way too much. The really unfair thing about this symptom is that hobbies are really beneficial for mental health, giving a sense of achievement, lots of endorphins, and the social aspect of like-minded company.
Losing interest in things you used to enjoy can also include sex, food, socialising, and looking after yourself (painting your nails, shaving, pampering). Lacking in energy is a common sign of depression, and this is one of the ways it clearly manifests itself.
2. You’re isolating yourself more than usual
We all have days when we really don’t feel like being the life and soul of the party, or we feel like we can’t be bothered going out – but when those days stretch into weeks, or even months, and we’re still making excuses not to see people, it could be that it’s deliberate isolation.
Why do people choose to separate themselves from their friends and family at a time when their support could be invaluable? There are various reasons. Being happy feels fake – and it’s exhausting to keep up a show, especially if you’re already feeling fatigued. Your patience is perhaps thinner than usual so you may find the idea of sociable chat highly irritating, or, it may be too anxiety provoking so you don’t bother and prefer to isolate yourself instead.
However, we always feel better when we make that effort to socialise, because we are hard wired as part of our evolution to feel safer when we ‘belong’ to something bigger than ourselves, e.g our ‘tribe’ in evolutionary terms. This is why we feel better when we make the effort to practice interacting and engaging with others.
3. You’re feeling anxious, scared, or worried frequently
Depression and anxiety are different things. However, people with depression often have similar symptoms to those with anxiety disorders. You’re fearing that the worst will happen, or thinking negatively about the future which naturally creates anxiety and worry. It’s so hard, carrying these feelings around with you all the time. Constantly imagining the worst-case-scenario is exhausting, and leaves you unable to relax and switch off.
Remember to always practice self-compassion; be kind and encouraging to yourself like you would be to a friend. Talk to people you trust or talk to a professional counsellor or psychotherapist. It’s true that a problem shared (or feelings and worries shared), really helps put things into perspective.
4. Negative thinking and self-criticism
When we feel in a low mood it stems from our thoughts and we can be our own worst critic. I hear healthy, clever, successful people describe themselves as failures – and they have this negative belief because they really can’t see the truth whilst they are in this negative state. They sometimes think that everybody else is having a wonderful life, and compare themselves negatively. They are seeing a distorted view of the truth.
The good news is that the brain can be ‘re-wired’ to think more positively, and negative thinking doesn’t need to be the only way.
5. Your sleep patterns have changed
It could be that you’re not sleeping well, not able to get to sleep easily, waking up frequently in the middle of the night or waking up too early in the morning. Another change in sleeping patterns is wanting to sleep more – partly due to avoidance, partly because you simply feel so exhausted. The first sign that something is really bothering you is when your sleep patterns are different.
6. You’re turning to food or drink for comfort
Comfort eating is an understandable response – after all, food releases endorphins because we need to eat to survive. However, with comfort eating we usually reach for the unhealthier choices of food, and in larger volumes than dictated by hunger. This of course leads to weight gain, which can make us feel worse, and a whole vicious circle begins. Alcohol, likewise – it’s all too easy for the glass of wine to turn into the empty bottle of wine as you try to self-medicate or escape these feelings… and as with food, you end up in a far worse situation, except this is far more dangerous for your health and well-being longer term.
Conversely, you may have lost your appetite, and no longer enjoy food you used to. Again, this could be an indication that everything isn’t as it should be.
The good news is that solution-focused hypnotherapy can help as a natural way to start to cope with these feelings, and to start to feel better.
Hypnotherapy is a safe, calming, relaxing experience. Your solution focused hypnotherapist will work with you to help you move forwards into the positive future that you deserve, and to start enjoying life again.
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About Debbie Daltrey
Debbie Daltrey is a clinical hypnotherapist at Great Minds Clinic based in Manchester and Altrincham. Specialising in solution focused therapies combining hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, NLP, EFT, counselling, and CBT skills to help clients with a variety of issues to build confidence, positivity and emotional resilience.… Read more
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