Most people will go through a season of life where feelings get negative, motivation decreases, and problems seem to eclipse all that’s good in life. But how do you know when it’s time to do begin counseling for depression? When is it time to seek professional help for problems with mood? When is it important to talk with a licensed counselor about possible depression symptoms?
This is the first article in a 3-part series on increasing your understanding of depression and depression counseling. Let’s start by answering the question, “When Should I Consider Depression Counseling?”
When should I begin counseling for depression?
Do you think you could be struggling with feelings of depression? That awful sense that life is not going as it could or should, but yet, you feel hopeless that things will ever be different? If you slow down enough, you can see that some areas of your life is being affected: relationships, jobs, your self-worth, or your physical health.
Or maybe it’s someone you love who’s struggling feeling depressed. It could be your teen son, daughter, or a spouse. They are withdrawing more and more, and when you do finally have time with them them you notice more grumpiness than normal. You try talking about the changes you notice, but it doesn’t get through. Something seems to have a hold not only on the person you love, but your relationship with him or her.
I recommend that people consider four signs or “life-areas” when making a decision about beginning treatment for depression. But before we examine these areas, please take note! Depression looks different for each person or family since everyone’s story is unique. Some might have a few signs or symptoms across multiple life areas, while others can be intensely affected by just particular sign or symptom. The short answer to the question “When should I get help?” is whenever these depression symptoms cause more interference or stress in your life than you want.
Yet, to help you make a more informed decision about kind of interference and stress that can occur when depression sets in, here are the 4 Signs to Consider when deciding about Depression Counseling: 1) physical symptoms, 2) behaviors & actions, 3) thoughts & feelings, and 4) relationships.
#1 – Consider Physical Symptoms of the Body when deciding about Depression Treatment
First, when depression is up and running, it often takes a toll on the body. Are you or your loved one experienced any of the following physical symptoms of depression? The impact on the body is often of the clearest areas of life that shows a real depression problem may be occurring.
- sleep problems – either too much or too little
- lack of energy or worsening fatigue
- appetite disturbance
- significant weight change (either gaining or losing) in a short time period
- unexplained muscle tension, soreness, aches and pains,
- observable slowing down or increased physical agitation
#2 – Consider Actions & Behaviors when deciding about Depression Counseling
Next, depression will often impact a person’s ability to function or execute life in the way they want. If we’re honest, we may not be living up to our potential or fulfilling our calling or sense of purpose. Here are a few behaviors that may occur when depression treatment should be investigated:
- isolating more from friends/family, withdrawing to stay alone
- slacking on responsibilities, giving up when things get tough
- worsening focus, having a hard time with concentration and attention
- avoiding efforts or things that would likely increase joy or bring help
- showing less interest, decreased participation in former pleasurable activities
- signs of possible self-harming or other self-destructive behaviors
- increased drinking or substance use as possible means of coping
#3 – Consider Thoughts & Feelings when deciding about Depression Treatment
Depression symptoms, of course, affect a person’s emotional life. Our internal world of thoughts and feelings both contribute to our overall mood. For some, depression may look sad or “blue,” while others seem to become angrier and more frustrated. Still there are others who, despite struggling on the inside, they can keep their emotions hidden. Their internal world remains concealed, even from close friends or family. Do you relate to any of the following emotional symptoms of depression?
- increased sadness and/or anger, either in frequency or intensity
- feelings and thoughts of worthlessness, lower self-esteem compared to the past
- thinking of death, dying or suicide, or talking some about these matters
- getting stuck in worry or “worst-case-scenario” mode
- increased loneliness, a dreadful sense that no one else really understands or cares
#4 – Consider Relationship Symptoms when deciding about Counseling for Depression
The last area to investigate when thinking about counseling for depression is our relationships. Ultimately, we are wired to connect with others, and problems of depression will eventually impact our relationships, especially with those who matter most. Are any of the following issues showing up in your relationships?
- getting stuck in increased arguing, fighting and conflict
- feeling there’s now a “wall” between you and your loved ones
- keeping to oneself more, sharing with loved ones less than before
- less vulnerability in relationships, replaced with more irritability and grumpiness
- sudden “cutting off” of prior relationships with close friends of family
Concluding Thoughts on Counseling for Depression
In my view, these four areas of life are the best things to consider when deciding about depression counseling. Take a minute now, think about any issues you or your loved one may have with your physical health, behaviors, internal emotional life and relationships.
So, whether the burden is due to the frequency of several symptoms, or just one or two intense issues, you know it’s time to begin depression counseling whenever there is too much interference with or stress in your life.
Begin Depression Counseling in Greenville, SC
Ask yourself this question: If these depression symptoms disappeared at once, how much better would my life be overall? If this amount of improvement seems significant, then what are you waiting for? Reach out today to learn more about how counseling helps depression. To be clear, counseling for depression does not automatically take your symptoms away. Nothing magical happens in therapy. However, working through these challenges with an expert counselor who’s trained to help is proven by years of research to bring real growth and change in your life. It is possible to feel more joy and have life become more like you desire. Reach out today to our Greenville, SC Counseling Clinic with any questions.
Check out the next article in this series, What to Expect in Depression Counseling.