How do you know if you’re depressed?

When we greet each other, we typically ask:  “How are you doing?” and the automatic response is:  “Fine.  How are you?”  We say it almost without thinking, but are we really fine?

The pandemic has a lot for us to worry about:  financial insecurity, illness, death.  Being out of a job or forced to work fewer hours, and trying to get by on unemployment insurance while the cost of essential supplies goes up is stressful.  Worrying about the current state of COVID 19 when a vaccine is still probably at least 6 months away is stressful. 

On top of that, the pandemic has caused us to severely alter our regular routines and social interactions. We can’t gather in groups.  Shopping is limited to the number of people in the store or curbside pickup.  Doctor visits have changed to use telehealth.  We can’t go out to bars, restaurants, concerts, amusement parks, beaches, or pools.   Some of us haven’t seen friends and family members in person for months.  Having to handle all of this stress at the same time as you are unable to fall back on your regular routines or get the support you need from friends and family, sometimes leads to depression.

How DO you know if you’re depressed?

It is common for us to suffer from some anxiety during this pandemic.  But, some people are feeling overwhelmed.  The constant barrage of increased positive testing and death rates on the news –especially without a vaccine being available  in the near future—has caused some people to lose hope for any type of normalcy.  

COVID-19 has changed all of our routines – including how we have fun.   While some people have taken up new hobbies like walks on the rail trails, baking, home improvement projects, or gardening, others have a hard time finding new activities to have fun or relieve stress.  Others become fixated on what they can’t do.  If you feel overwhelmed or helpless, or take little or no joy in things that you can do, you may be depressed. 

Most people associate depression with people who are sad all the time.  It’s not always that obvious. 

Symptoms of depression can be sneaky.  They aren’t limited to feeling sad and hopeless.  They appear in other ways.  Depression can disrupt your sleep.  Often, people who suffer from depression have fatigue and are tired all the time.  Others, suffer from insomnia and either can’t sleep at night or wake up multiple times per night.  People suffering depression can be irritable with a “short fuse” easily frustrated or angered.  Someone who is depressed may appear “foggy”.  They may have trouble concentrating or remembering things.  Depression symptoms can also include someone who stops taking care of themselves.  They may stop changing their clothes, bathing regularly or brushing their teeth.  Others get teary-eyed over what may seem trivial or a minor incident to others.  People who are depressed also may “stress eat” and gain weight or lack interest in eating altogether and lose weight. 

So what if I feel sad, what does it matter?

It matters a lot!  One’s mental health, can exacerbate pre-existing conditions.  Being stressed or depressed has also been shown to intensify the severity of chronic pain and sometimes trigger migraine.  Additionally, depression left untreated, could lead to thoughts of suicide.

What can you do?

If you suspect that you or your loved one may be suicidal, please don’t wait to reach out.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress.  They will also provide prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255

If you suspect that you are or a loved one is feeling depressed, please contact your health care provider.   Whether in person or via telehealth, health care providers have many ways in which they can help you. 

If you suffer from depression and chronic pain or migraine, Boston PainCare and the Boston Headache Institute can help!  Boston PainCare offers patient-centered, integrated care for men and women in the Boston area.  They are accepting new patients (even now during the pandemic). 

Please call:  781-647-7246 to schedule an appointment.

If you are already diagnosed with depression and migraine, we are currently enrolling for a study.  Click here to learn more.