I asked my Twitter community if it was possible to be in denial about depression, and the consensus was yes. I am experiencing a depression without my most typical depression symptoms. I have some of the normal ones: difficulty showering, isolation, trouble getting out of the apartment, lack of affect. But I don’t have my usual sadness, hopelessness, lack of appetite, increased or decreased sleeping. What I’ve concluded is that I might be in a mild depression. My therapist has been pointing me in that direction. It’s not hindering my life too much right now, but she worries that it will continue to worsen until I’m not functional at all any more. I worry about that too but I don’t see it happening right now. I’m generally in too good of a mood.
Depression can be sneaky. It can close in on you when you don’t expect it and show itself in ways that you’re not used to. I’m bipolar, so my depressions are cyclical and they have proven to be very deep, intractable quagmires. But what does depression mean? What am I watching for? Where is my depression taking me?
WebMD says the following:
During the depression phase of bipolar disorder, you might:
- Feel sad, worried, or empty
- Have little to no energy
- Feel like you can’t enjoy anything
- Sleep too little or too much
- Have a hard time getting out of bed
- Eat too little or too much
- Have trouble focusing or remembering things
- Have a hard time making decisions
- Think about suicide or death
You could have all of these symptoms or some of them. Someone with bipolar disorder can sometimes feel very sad but also full of energy. The surest sign of a phase of depression is that you feel down for a long time — usually at least 2 weeks. You might have these episodes rarely or several times a year.
I’ve been in a weird place for the last couple of weeks. Some of it was to do with PMDD, but sometimes that triggers a depression that lasts. I have all of these symptoms, to some extent. Which I guess means I’m a little depressed. There is something to be said for knowing what’s going on because then I also know that I can fix it. I urge others to do this as well. Try to identify what’s going on because sometimes there are simple solutions. Like, if you’re having trouble focusing, make To Do lists and give yourself a timed schedule.
Identifying your own depression can be very difficult though, and sometimes it takes others to point out the fact that you might be having trouble. I wouldn’t have really paid any attention to the fact that I was depressed because I was missing what I view as key signs, but depressions come in all flavors and colors, so they’re not always the same. This depression tastes like apathy rather than sadness, like indecision rather than “I give up.” It’s simply uncomfortable instead of unbearable.
For people with major depressive disorder WebMD says:
What Is Major or Clinical Depression?
Most people feel sad or low at some point in their lives. But clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, sometimes particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks. In addition, according to the DSM-5 — a manual used to diagnose mental health conditions — you may have other symptoms with major depression. Those symptoms might include:
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
- Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others)
- Restlessness or feeling slowed down
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
- Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)
If you’re worried you might be depressed, there are many questionnaires you can fill out online that will help you decide if you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms. If you think a friend or loved one may be depressed, see if you can get them to fill out a questionnaire and talk to their doctor.
I plan to hit this depression hard, with positive thinking, positive actions, and by listening to my therapist when she tells me something’s wrong and I need to fix it. I hope that by being proactive I can cut this off at the pass. I will start by taking a shower and eating some food because that seems to be a good place to begin. I will walk the dogs. I will clean the apartment a little. I will do some math. I will try to read. I will NOT freak out. I will NOT attack myself for this set back. I will NOT collapse into a pile of goo and just hope for the best. I will maintain my agency and recover from this dip. If I can, you can too.