When you think about depression, an overwhelming feeling of sadness is often one of the first things that comes to mind. In fact, it’s a common belief that depression and sadness are the same. However, experiencing depression often comes with a number of other symptoms and some people may not experience a sense of sadness at all.
Other symptoms might include:
- a loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities
- sleeping too much or not enough
- significant weight loss or gain
- difficulty concentrating
- lack of energy
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Nearly 16 Million People Experience Depression Every Year
According to a short article from the American Psychological Association, depression is the most common mental health condition. Many people have experienced depressive symptoms, or even a Major Depressive Episode, without realizing it because the absence of pronounced sadness can make it more difficult to detect.
Certain Activities Can Really Help Depression
The good news is that depression is treatable. High quality scientific studies have demonstrated that some key activities can help. Specifically, spending time with supportive people, particularly when that time does not focus exclusively on discussing problems, can help to measurably reduce depression. Similarly, exercise can also help to improve the symptoms of depression, especially when done consistently. Socializing with supportive people and engaging in exercise also come with additional benefits besides improving depressive symptoms – like boosting cognitive performance and reducing the negative impacts of stress and anxiety – so there’s a big payoff for the time and effort required.
There are also several treatment options, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, that work well in helping people to reduce symptoms and regain functioning. An added benefit of formal therapy is the opportunity to develop skills that will help both in managing symptoms now and can be used again whenever needed in the future.
When to Seek Therapy for Depression
As symptoms become more severe or as they go on for longer periods of time, therapy can help with faster and more complete improvement. It might be time to seek therapy if symptoms are:
- present for two weeks or more
- getting worse despite efforts to improve them
- making it difficult to do the things you need or want to do in your daily life