Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken. – C.S. Lewis
We’ve all felt “down” before. Perhaps we’ve been fighting with family or close friends, or maybe we lost our job, or found out someone we love is really sick. Maybe we’re lonely or overwhelmed with the busyness of life and just feel exhausted.
And then, like a bus careening down a highway, it hits us:
Crying. Irritability. Lethargy. Negative thinking. Hopelessness. Fatigue. Isolation.
Individually, these symptoms can be just a natural part of the roller coaster that is being human. Or we may experience these symptoms after the death of someone close to us, in the natural course of bereavement. But what if you aren’t grieving loss? What if you’re feeling these and more, and it won’t go away?
5 Signs It Might Be Depression
- You feel sad, cranky, hopeless, empty, worthless or otherwise negative.
- You’re usually a Tigger or Pooh and suddenly find yourself looking more like Eeyore. If you’re like me, and an emo kid at heart, this may or may not apply to you.
- You’re eating more or less than usual.
- You suddenly have no appetite, or you want to eat ALL THE CARBS. Back when I had depression, I ate my way through a roll of cookie dough without blinking. Carbs and sugar give you an immediate boost in energy and false happiness, but the crash is so not worth it.
- You’re sleeping way more or way less than usual.
- You feel like hiding away in bed all day, or you scroll Pinterest all night, like a zombie with an iPhone.
- You don’t want to do the things you usually enjoy doing.
- You find yourself cancelling plans with friends last minute, ignoring calls, and no longer getting pleasure out of your kickball league/trivia night/knitting club.
- You can’t concentrate or make decisions like you used to.
- You find yourself spending 10 minutes debating between two different kinds of wheat bread at the grocery store, or wander the aisles feeling guilty about buying anything. Note that this is different than when you go shopping for 3 hours and end up buying the first thing you saw – that’s just being me or any other woman in my family.
- You wake up feeling like you’re carrying 20-pound dumb bells on your back.
- When I had full-blown depression, I would tell people that it’s like having the flu, and then someone says you have to run a marathon. Inconceivable!
- These symptoms last most of the day, and occur almost every day, for more than 2 weeks.
If you find yourself relating to these symptoms, consider the following to get you started on the path to mental health:
- Make an appointment with your primary care provider for a full checkup.
- It’s good to rule out any physical issues, or treat physical issues that might be making the depression worse. Studies show that a number of deficiencies can cause depression-like symptoms, including a vitamin D deficiency.
- Make an appointment with a counselor.
- Regardless of the cause of your depression, a counselor can help you sort everything out, provide a safe place to process your life stresses, and help you develop healthy coping skills.
- Call a friend for moral support.
- Dealing with depression is not easy – a good friend can be an essential part of the healing process.
- St. Dymphna is the patron saint of mental illness, and the prayer warrior woman I call on when my anxiety runs away with me. Learn about her here.
- If you at any time feel suicidal, call Austin Travis County’s 24/7 Crisis Hotline for immediate help: (512) 472-HELP.
Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach by Sr. Kathryn Hermes
The Catholic Guide to Depression by Dr. Aaron Kheriaty
Protect Us From All Anxiety: Meditations for the Depressed by Fr. William Burke
Listing of Catholic Therapists: https://www.catholictherapists.com/
[Disclaimer: This post is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific mental illness. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a mental illness without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider if you have specific concerns. If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, call 911 or Austin’s 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 512-472-HELP (4357).]