Am I Depressed?

There is always help for serious depression. If you feel hopeless and are having thoughts of suicide, call this number right now. Someone is there to help~

1 (800) 273-8255

Science Recognizes Depression

Depression is a debilitating illness that affects all aspects of life. There are emotional, shutterstock_49984879mental and physical changes associated with a depressive disorder. Brain scans, specifically Functional Magnetic Resonance Images (fMRI), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans show that individuals with depression have different brain activity than those who do not suffer from depression.

In the past, individuals suffering from depression were sometimes told to “get over it”, and their experience wasn’t taken seriously. Science now validates what depressed people have known for a long time. It is real.

What Does Serious Depression Feel Like?

Depression is experienced differently by different people but there are some common symptoms. These include:

Feelings of guilt
Not being able to sleep, or sleeping all the time
Feeling sad and empty
Changes in eating habits
Concentration difficulties
Suicidal thoughts

 There are also symptoms unique to every person that may not be on the above list. A mental health professional is trained to help identify and understand feelings associated with depression.


What Causes Depression?

There are outside circumstances which may trigger depression, or make existing symptoms worse. Depression is also related to chemical signals in the brain being out of balance. They may become imbalanced due to:

genetic predisposition,
tissue damage
environmental exposure
pregnancy and childbirth
traumatic injuries

Depression can develop after an emotional or psychological trauma. Sometimes depression does not have a clear external life trigger. An individual can look at her or his life and think everything should be fine, but still feel depressed. This is normal.


Depression is a complex illness and there is usually no single cause. Instead, it is a combination of factors which makes depression emerge.

How is Depression Diagnosed?

If any of the above symptoms are experienced on a regular basis, it’s important to get a full medical checkup. There are other conditions which can cause those symptoms including thyroid problems, side effects from medications or underlying viral illness. These need to be ruled out first.

A referral to a mental health specialist is the next step.shutterstock_136749131

A mental health exam is comprehensive and explores all aspects of your life, including genetic risk factors. The mental health professional will ask in-depth questions including:

your medical and psychological history
your entire family’s medical and psychological history
current medications
any use of drugs or alcohol
when you first experienced depression
what brings on depressed feelings
if you are having any suicidal thoughts
specific questions focused on understanding your symptoms

You may be asked to take a mental health screening test which is a multiple choice test that has no right or wrong answers. You just respond to the choice you feel is the best answer to the question.

It’s very important to be completely honest during the mental health exam. These professionals are trained to understand mental health, are compassionate and have heard it all!

There Is Help

The most important first step is to acknowledge your depression and seek help. There are many wonderful resources. Even if you do not want to take medications, there are alternatives such as meditation, counseling and lifestyle changes that can make a big difference. Call your primary care provider, or locate a mental health professional in your area. There are also free online resources. Just search for depression assistance.

There Is Help

Suicide Prevention: 1 (800) 273-8255

 The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed medical professional. It is essential that you discuss with your primary care provider any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.



Allison, D. J., & Ditor, D. S. (2014). The common inflammatory etiology of depression and cognitive impairment: a therapeutic target. Journal Of Neuroinflammation, 11(1), 1-25. doi:10.1186/s12974-014-0151-1

Cleveland, H., Baumann, A., Zäske, H., Jänner, M., Icks, A., & Gaebel, W. (2013). Association of lay beliefs about causes of depression with social distance. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 128(5), 397-405. doi:10.1111/acps.12088

Fried, E. I. (2015). Problematic assumptions have slowed down depression research: why symptoms, not syndromes are the way forward. Frontiers In Psychology, 61-11. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00309

Wium-Andersen, M. K., Orsted, D. D., & Nordestgaard, B. G. (2014). Elevated C-reactive protein, depression, somatic diseases, and all-cause mortality: a mendelian randomization study. Biological Psychiatry, 76(3), 249-257. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2013.10.009

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