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Life throws us curveballs. Our moods go up and down. We all have good days and bad days. But sometimes, the lows begin to last longer than the highs. When the everyday blues begin to deepen and endure, it may be a sign of depression.

A Clearer Picture

Much has been learned in recent years about depression – what it is, what can cause it, what it does to us, and some of the things we can do about it. Depression can affect people very differently, and the best approach to managing it is unique to each person.

The first step, though, is determining whether there’s any reason to be concerned. And self-screening is an easy way to begin.

The Power of Screening

Just like cancer and diabetes, depression can be managed more effectively when it’s identified early. Screenings aren’t just for doctors to administer. Anyone can conduct a depression self-screening – privately and anonymously. Walking through a few questions can help put your mind at ease, or perhaps make you decide it’s time to have a conversation with your physician.

Ask Yourself:

  • Do you experience feelings of hopelessness or helplessness?
  • Have you lost interest in activities and relationships that were once important to you?
  • Do you feel extreme fatigue that you can’t shake?
  • Do you have difficulty sleeping?
  • Has your appetite noticeably increased or decreased?
  • Is it difficult for you to concentrate on tasks that were once easy to accomplish?
  • Is it hard for you to banish negative thoughts from your head, especially about your own worth?
  • Are you more irritable or angry than you’d like to be?
  • Do you experience persistent aches and pains that can’t be explained by injury and that don’t diminish with treatment?
  • Have you begun to consume more alcohol than usual?
  • Have you considered harming yourself?

Now ask yourself one more question: Is it time for you to discuss depression with a healthcare professional?

When to Talk About It

It’s possible your symptoms are signs of something altogether different from depression. Some thyroid conditions, for example, can cause similar issues and are very treatable. So it’s worth consulting a physician to get a full picture of what might be going on.

If you do end up with a diagnosis of depression, your doctor can work with you to explore treatment options. Most cases can be managed well with talk therapy (with a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist) and/or medications (including various classes of prescription antidepressants). Finding the right combination and the proper dosages that meet your unique needs can take time, so be patient.

A Form of Self-care

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Don’t let nagging questions bring you down. Begin finding the answers you need by conducting a depression self-screening. Then work with your doctor if necessary to get you back on track. It just might take the spin out of the next curveball that comes your way.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, or need to speak with someone immediately about yourself or someone you are worried about, please contact the national suicide prevention line, 800-273-8255, or the national crisis text line (text 741-741) which provides anonymous and confidential crisis counseling via text messages.