How Do You Know If You Have Depression And When To Get Help

Updated November 18, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Feeling down for some time? It is normal for human beings to encounter sad and depressive feelings however if you are continuously feeling then the best thing you could do is to get help from an expert. Figuring out if you’re actually depressed can be pretty confusing. This is mainly due to a lack of awareness and knowledge about depression and overall mental health. This is why we will be covering the topic of depression in detail and help you identify symptoms and give you a guide on when to get help.

What is Depression

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Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. It is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
It is not about just feeling low and sad, it gets really difficult to come out of it on your own and in most of the cases it requires therapy and medical intervention. Here are some common physical symptoms of depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health:

Common Symptoms
Loss of interest in everything
Impending feeling of doom
Feeling sad
Changes in appetite (overeating or undereating)
Feeling guilty and worthless
Difficulty in staying focused
Thoughts of death or suicide
Experiencing anger and irritability

Generally it is believed that at least few of these symptoms must last for two weeks or more to qualify as clinical depression.

It is important to note that people may experience these symptoms due to medical conditions so it is essential to consult a psychiatrist before coming to a conclusion. There are various medical conditions that can mimic depression and these include ADHD, Chronic Fatigue, Parkinson's disease, etc.

Physical Health Conditions And Depression

There are physical symptoms, like those above, that can be a direct result of a depressive disorder. However, there's a link between existing physical health conditions and the development of depression, too. Physical illness is a potential risk factor for depression alongside other risk factors, such as adverse childhood experiences and family history. Higher depression rates are seen in people with rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, cancer, heart disease, heart attacks, and other conditions. Mental health therapy is known to support symptom management in people with a variety of different physical health conditions and address various mental health and life concerns.

The symptoms of physical health conditions, alongside other possible concerns related to physical health conditions, like uncertainty and increased financial stress, most certainly can impact your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Physical symptoms can be isolating and stressful at times, so it is important to have support from others. This can be true whether you do or do not live with depression. Just as therapy is affiliated with improved symptom management in physical health conditions or concerns, social support is.


Depression is cured through multiple types of treatment. Most of the people (70-80%) are able to get back to their normal selves with proper treatment and therapy. Here are some of the common methods to treat depression


Antidepressant medicines are commonly used to treat depression and they are very effective for most people. The doctor may prescribe multiple medicines and it may take some time before figuring out which one works best for you. These antidepressants may include mood stabilizer, antipsychotic medicine, or anxiety medication etc.


Talking to a mental health therapist on a consistent basis is also an effective way of curing depression. Normally psychotherapy is used along with medication to effectively defeat depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a commonly used therapy to identify the causes and address them.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive Therapy is normally used to treat depression when other treatments are not working. This type of therapy involves passing electric current through your brain to help your neurotransmitters work better.

Sleep Deprivation Therapy

This involves depriving the patient of sleep for one night and then going for sleep the next night. The rational behind is that sleep deprivation may bring metabolism changes in the brain which might improve the mood afterwards. However this therapy is only used as a temporary cure.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

TMS is normally used when antidepressants are not working. This treatment uses a coil to send magnetic pulses through your brain to help stimulate nerve cells that regulate your mood.

Self Help & Home Remedies

There are also a lot of self help techniques to fight feelings of depression. These remedies include improving your sleep quality, participating in sports and physical activities.

Support groups can also be a beneficial supplement to depression treatment. They are available for people who live with depression themselves and loved ones of those who live with depression, like family or romantic partners. If you have a physical health condition in addition to a depressive disorder, you may be able to find a support group designated for those who live with the same condition. If you have a comorbid condition such as substance abuse, there are many depression support groups that focus on that, as well. Support groups, which may be held virtually or in person, are often free and may be led by peers or professionals. You can find a support group by searching the web or asking a provider for a recommendation.

Above all else, what matters is that you reach out for help when you need it. While it may take time to find the right care for you or the right combination of treatments for depression, symptom management and improved quality of life are achievable.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line are available 24/7.

There are several different kinds of depression outside of major depression, also known as clinical depression. These include persistent depressive disorder (PDD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (sometimes called seasonal affect disorder), and postpartum depression. Each diagnosis under the category of depressive disorders has a different set of criteria. Other concerns may also lead to symptoms affiliated with depressive disorders or periods of depression. For example, bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating mania or hypomania and depression episodes.

These professionals may also be able to provide you with a referral to a therapist or counselor if desired or if they/you feel it would be a helpful addition to treatment. Alternatively, you can search the web to find a therapist, contact your insurance company to see what they cover, look for low-income resources that are local to you, or try online therapy. Whether you see a medical doctor, a therapist, or both, the American Psychiatric Association stresses that it is of paramount importance to be completely open and transparent about any symptoms you are experiencing, as well as information that could be related such as childhood trauma, a family history of depression, and so on. These professionals are not there to judge, but to help, and treatment tends to be more effective (and accurate) if they have as much of the picture as possible.

You don't need a diagnosis of depression or any other mental health condition to start seeing a therapist. Therapy can help individuals with various concerns, from mental health conditions like depressive disorders to other challenges, like life stress, grief, social relationships, and more. Whether you live with depression or need support in another area, therapy is an option to consider.

Are You Experiencing Symptoms Of Depression - Or Something Else?

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