We all experience feelings of depression in one form or another. Whether we feel sad for a few days for no apparent reason or have a hard time getting up in the mornings after a breakup, feelings of depression are a normal part of the human experience.
So how do you know if the depression is serious? Here are a few signs:
If the feelings of depression…
- Persist over time. When the depressed feelings don’t go away after a few days or even a couple of weeks, it may be a sign of serious depression. Depression is different from feeling depressed, because depression as an illness is chronic, and tends to last or recur over a longer period of time.
- Take over one’s life. Sometimes we can shake off feelings of sadness, but at other times they seem to color all of life. When feelings of depression begin affecting relationships, and especially when they color a person’s perspective on multiple facets of life, that’s a big warning sign that it’s serious.
- Cause a change in sleep patterns. Exhaustion can be caused by many things, but one possible cause is depression. It can be difficult to find the energy to do things, or even to get out of bed in the morning. A person may begin sleeping much more than usual, or the reverse may happen, in which the person becomes restless and finds it difficult to sleep at all.
- Cause a person to lose interest in things they previously enjoyed. If a person begins withdrawing from activities or friendships they used to enjoy, especially if this withdrawal becomes a trend, that could mean they are seriously struggling.
- Lead to pervasive, hopeless thoughts. Thought patterns can become extremely anxious, fearful and hopeless, and it can feel almost impossible to break the power of these thoughts.
- Cause a person to become irrational. If a person cannot seem to see through the depression and feels like life has lost all meaning, he or she can begin speaking of doing irrational things, or even of ending his or her own life.
If you think you or your friend may be struggling with depression, err on the side of caution. Even if you’re not sure how serious it is, get the input of a trusted adult. See what the adult thinks.
Depression routinely requires medical treatment, and if after reading these signs and/or talking with an adult, you think, “Oh man, this depression is serious!” then you should get in touch with a medical professional as soon as possible.
This may sound overwhelming, but the good news is: There is help! You are not alone! And there is hope!
See what God can do…
It is absolutely amazing to see what God can do when we give Him our struggles! He often uses a good support team of friends, adults and medical professionals to help us learn how to walk in His freedom. But look what can come out of deep struggles, like depression:
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:1-2)
Doesn’t depression feel like sinking into a muddy pit? But God can give us a firm place to stand: clear thinking and solid truth.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:3)
Joy can come out of our depression as we praise Him for how He has worked in our lives. And then God can use the very things we struggled with as a testimony of His love and greatness!
Your story could be the one that leads someone else to put their trust in the Lord. How amazing is that?!
Here are some resources:
- “How Do I Talk About My Depression?” on Project Inspired
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- WebMD “Help Yourself Out of Depression” article
- HelpGuide.org: A trusted nonprofit guide to mental health and well-being
- Groundwire: Chat now with someone who cares
Note: The information expressed in this article is not medical advice, nor it is professional counseling advice. Depression routinely requires medical or professional advice. Don’t hesitate to seek those things out.