How do I know if I have Depression or Anxiety?

Feeling stressed out, worried or frustrated may be typical responses to life situations. You may be wondering what’s the difference between feeling sad or worried and experiencing something more serious, such as a depressive or anxiety disorder.

A guideline on when these symptoms may need to be addressed by a professional:

  • Stress, worry or feelings of unhappiness begin to interfere with your daily functioning at home, work, school or with relationships
  • Emotions such as sadness or anxiety are persistent, lasting longer and with more intensity than a typical response to life stressors
  • Experiencing loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy doing
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, helplessness
  • Excessive irrational fears and/or dread
  • Disruptive sleep patterns: sleeping too much, interrupted sleep, insomnia
  • Appetite changes: eating too much or loss of appetite
  • Irritability, anger outbursts, easily agitated
  • Difficulty concentrating, cognitive “fuzziness,” memory loss
  • Fatigue, lack of energy, lack of interest in others
  • Substance use or abuse or other reckless behaviors
  • Thoughts such as not really caring if you live or thinking others would be better off without you around are passive suicidal ideation

If you or someone you know is experiencing some or all of the symptoms above, please seek out professional assistance to be screened for treatment. The good news is that depressive and anxiety disorders have many forms of treatment and good success rates.

Asking for help may be easier said than done. Often times, the biggest step toward a healthier and happier life is being able to acknowledge to yourself that you cannot or should not try to handle the situation on your own. You may even experience feeling out of control and lowered self-esteem at the thought of requesting help.

How to make asking for help easier: Try stating how tough it is for you when you talk with someone by just saying the words “It’s really hard for me to ask for help.” It can decrease your feelings of discomfort and increase the other person’s understanding of what you need. Once you have passed that obstacle, you can get down to business to learning new skills to reclaim your life, enjoy healthy relationships, and work toward fulfilling goals.