Everyone gets sad or experiences low moods at some point in their lives. This is a normal part of life, but most people can navigate the highs and lows themselves with little external help, and their moods improve on their own. But if you’re depressed, how do you explain it?

Explain Depression with Simple Truths

It’s never easy to talk with other people about health problems, even more so regarding mental health issues. In fact, the stigma and prejudice surrounding mental health mean that about half of all people with problems don’t get the care they need for these very reasons – because their illness is minimized, trivialized, or not taken seriously. 

But if you have a diagnosed mental health condition like depression, or believe you have symptoms, there are ways to explain it to someone so that person understands what you’re going through.

One of the best ways to explain depression to someone is to deal with the simple truths of what’s going on in your life. This begins with clear and straightforward facts.

  • Depression is a common and severe medical problem that adversely affects your feelings, thoughts, and actions.
  • According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, depression affects more than 17 million U.S. adults and is more common in women than men. Unfortunately, children aren’t immune to mental health problems, as nearly two million face depression symptoms each year.

It’s also key to connect on a personal level and tell the other person the kind of symptoms you experience. To the casual observer, you may come across as moody or tired all the time, but depression has unique symptoms:

  • You feel sad or have low moods all or most of the day, nearly every day for weeks or months
  • You’re not interested in things you used to enjoy doing or spending time with friends or loved ones
  • Your appetite has changed, and you find yourself binge eating or not eating enough, resulting in noticeable weight loss or gain
  • You have sleep problems. According to Johns Hopkins, about 75 percent of people with depression have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • According to the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), fatigue or tiredness is a “residual” symptom of depression
  • Tell the other person that you sometimes find yourself doing more purposeless physical activity than before, and that your physical movement or speech may be slower than before
  • You sometimes feel worthless or guilty
  • Depression can make it hard to think, concentrate, and make decisions
  • You’ve caught yourself thinking of harming yourself or taking your life

Other things to mention to someone about depression

  • You need help, but don’t know where to turn for assistance because you lack health insurance, have transportation issues, or there’s another limiting factor in getting care.
  • It’s crucial for people to know that depression is a leading source of disability worldwide and affects more than 300 million people. In the United States, many people who are disabled because of mental health problems have trouble collecting Social Security Benefits due to the burden of proof.
  • You can tell someone that depression is treatable and isn’t a sign of weakness or a moral failure.

Diagnosis & Alternate Care Options

If you’re experiencing depression symptoms, the only way to know for sure is to get diagnosed by a medical and mental health professional. The process includes at least three steps:

  1. A thorough physical examination by a medical doctor. The goal is to uncover any medical problems which may be causing your symptoms and to offer treatment if possible. You may be asked to provide a blood sample or undergo other tests.
  2. If no medical problem is discovered, you’ll probably be referred to a mental healthcare specialist for more evaluation. A psychological examination aims to determine if your thoughts, feelings, and actions are triggering your symptoms, or if you or a biological relative has a history of depression that influences your symptoms.
  3. Compare your symptoms to diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.

Psychotherapy combined with medicine like antidepressants is a standard treatment for adults with depression, but there are alternative therapy options. In some cases, your healthcare provider may discuss ketamine infusion therapy. A version of ketamine was approved in 2019 to fight treatment-resistant depression, and the medicine also is available intravenously through licensed specialty clinics nationwide.

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