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URMC / BHP / BHP Blog / July 2017 / Recognizing Depression

Recognizing Depression

Am I Depressed?

By: William Jarvie, LCSW-R

Depression is more than just being sad. It is a mood disorder which combines physical and mental symptoms that represent a significant change in a person’s typical functioning.

The World Health Organization estimates that depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide. Since symptoms of depression can vary and at times be subtle, it can be easily overlooked and/or neglected.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be experiencing depression, here are some signs to look for….

Persistent sadness – Everyone has highs and lows in their mood. When a person is depressed they often feel sad, empty, and/or hopeless. At times their sadness can be noticed by others as well. This sadness differs from ordinary unhappiness, in that it can prevent a person from participating in their daily activities.   

Loss of interest or pleasure in activities – Depression can make it difficult for individuals to participate in and/or enjoy activities at work, home, or in the community. If depressed a person may notice this decrease in their activity level. Others may notice it as well.

Significant changes in weight – If a person experiences significant changes in their appetite with a 5% change in weight, (i.e. either losing weight without dieting or gaining weight) over a one month period, this could be a sign the person is depressed.

Disrupted sleep – Everyone has poor sleep now and then, but if a person begins to regularly experience difficulty getting enough sleep or is sleeping too much, this could be an indication of depression.

Decreased Energy – Most people have busy lives and it is quite common to feel tired at times. When depressed, a person may feel fatigue or loss of energy most of the time for many days.

Negative feelings about self – When depressed, it is quite common for an individual to have negative feelings about themselves. Some of these feelings include worthlessness or excessive/inappropriate guilt. It’s common for a person to be more self-critical, dissatisfied, and frustrated in general.

Difficulty with thinking – When depressed, a person may have difficulty with concentration and may be much more indecisive. Again, this may be something they notice or is noticed by others.

Suicidal thoughts or actions – This could include reoccurring thoughts about death, thoughts about suicide without any plans or intent, having specific plans for committing suicide or actually attempting suicide.

It’s important to know the symptoms described above are common human experiences that for the most part in and of themselves, do not automatically indicate someone is depressed. There is a greater likelihood someone is depressed if they experience a great number of these symptoms for an extended period of time.

If you or a loved one have any questions or concerns about any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to seek help and advice from a medical professional. One good place to start is with your doctor. You may also contact BHP (Behavioral Health Partners) to set up an appointment to meet with a mental health professional who can accurately assess your symptoms and make recommendations for treatment. You can reach BHP by calling (585) 276-6900. Learn more about depression here.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts and need immediate care, please call 9-1-1 or contact Lifeline at 275-5151.

Behavioral Health Partners is brought to you by Well-U, providing eligible individuals with mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression.


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