Mood disorders are increasingly common in the U.S. and a variety of factors contribute to this. Sadness and grief are not the same as depression and are normal life experiences. If you experience sadness or anhedonia (a loss of pleasure or ability to enjoy life) for an extended period of time, and/or other symptoms such as sleep difficulties, change in appetite, loss of energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, or difficulty concentrating or making decisions, you may have Dysthymic Disorder. Children who are depressed often appear irritable rather than depressed and the diagnosis can be missed.
If you are also having difficulty getting out of bed, loss of interest in pleasure or activities of life, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, and/or recurrent thoughts of death, this could be an indication of a more severe depression, called Major Depressive Disorder.
If you are thinking of hurting yourself (or have already done so) or of taking your life, you need to seek the support of someone you can trust, such as a trusted friend, a mentor or therapist, or your doctor. You may also call the National Suicide Hotline at (800) 273-8255 to speak with someone who can help.
Research has shown that untreated, mood disorders can eventually create changes in the brain. So if you believe you might be depressed, it’s in your best interest to seek treatment sooner rather than trying to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and pretend everything is OK. If you are seeing a therapist, you and your therapist can determine whether it is recommended to be medically evaluated for depression or whether therapy and some lifestyle changes will be adequate.