I’ve suffered with depression for as long as I can remember. I tried to self-medicate the symptoms with drugs, which led to my chemical dependency.
And I’m not alone.
The Role of Mental Health in Sobriety
In early recovery, many of us discovered we were suffering from an underlying mental health issue – or a co-existing disorder – that was masked by drugs and alcohol.
In the process of my own recovery, I learned my mental health was just as important as my physical and spiritual health. I uncovered how mental illness manifests in my everyday life, how to deal with symptoms in a healthy way, and how to get professional help.
The thing I’ve found most challenging is figuring out if I’m suffering with depression or just having a tough day.
The fact is, recovery is hard and there are many tough days – there are days when you feel terrible, you have no get up and go, and it feels like you’re trudging through thick mud.
So here’s the question: How do you know when you’re having a tough day, or if you’re suffering from a period of depression?
Learning to Know the Difference
Thankfully, the tough days usually pass. You typically experience them for short periods of time. Depression, on the other hand, displays a number of unique symptoms together and for a prolonged period of time – usually lasting more than two weeks.
These are certain signs and symptoms of depression that I’ve learned to watch out for:
- Sign #1 – Changes to Mood and Emotions: Feeling low or down, irritable, angry, frustrated, periods of sadness and unexplained crying
- Sign #2 – Big Changes in Appetite: Either hungry all the time, or no interest in eating
- Sign #3 – Feeling Uncomfortable: Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
- Sign #4 – No Interest in Doing Anything: Loss of libido, withdrawing socially, and a lack of joy in activities
- Sign #5 – Changes in Sleep Patterns: Either unable to sleep or tired all the time
- Sign #6 – Lethargy: A loss of energy and a persistent feeling of sluggishness
- Sign #7 – Lack of Focus: Feeling mentally hazy and finding it difficult to make decisions or speak clearly
- Sign #8 – Neglect: Loss of interest or care about personal hygiene – not showering every day, wearing the same clothes for days, not doing any laundry, etc.
- Sign #9 – Intrusive Thoughts: A million thoughts swimming around my mind and feeling like they can’t be controlled or stopped
- Sign #10 – Suicidal Ideation: Thoughts of self-harm
Reach Out For Help
If I experience any number of these symptoms for more than a week, I check in with my doctor and ask for help. Recovery, to me, is about having joy and energy in life and today I need not suffer in silence. Help is always available – today, I choose to take it.
Additional Reading: We’re Facing a Shortage of Mental Health Professionals
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