Is it depression?

Depression isn’t the same thing as the sadness we all sometimes feel. Watch for these warning signs to see if you or a loved one should talk to a mental health professional:

  • Hopeless outlook. Depression affects how you feel about life in general. Having hopeless or helpless feelings such as “What’s the point?” is a common symptom.
  • Loss of interest. Withdrawing from activities you once looked forward to is another red flag. Depression takes the enjoyment out of things you used to love.
  • Fatigue. Depression often saps your energy so that even the tiniest tasks take extra effort. You might want to sleep all the time or you may struggle with insomnia — both are common.
  • Anxiety. Do you feel nervous, restless, or tense? Depression can make it hard to relax, concentrate, make decisions, and function in your everyday life.
  • Mood swings. You’re angry one minute, crying the next. Nothing outside of you caused the change; your emotions are just all over the place.

Getting help

If you think it might be depression, talk to your doctor. They can provide treatment, such as prescribing medication and referring you to a therapist, so you can start feeling better as soon as possible.

You should also call your health insurance provider, who can give you the contact information of local therapists who accept your plan (remember, staying in-network can save you some serious cash). They can also confirm how mental health services are covered and what your share of the costs will be.

You can also reach out to your employer’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program) or contact your health plan’s 24/7 nurse line or telemedicine service.

Finding the right therapist

Ask your doctor or health plan to provide the names of a few different therapists. The first one you try might not be the right fit for you — and that’s perfectly normal. Here are some things to consider when choosing a therapist:

  • Do they have the right experience and qualifications? Master’s or doctoral degrees are reassuring, but you should also note their areas of specialty. Look for a therapist who has worked with people going through similar experiences or coping with a similar diagnosis.
  • Do you feel comfortable talking with them? If something seems off, or you just don’t click for whatever reason, seek a different therapist.
  • When will you meet? Make sure your schedules align. If you won’t be able to see or speak with your therapist as often as you need, it’s probably best to try someone else.
  • Can you afford their rates? After checking how much your insurance will pay, make sure the cost of ongoing appointments won’t break your budget.
  • How will your progress be evaluated? And what kind of improvements can you expect to see? Ask the therapist about their process for setting goals and measuring your progress along the way.

Sources: healthline.com; mayoclinic.org