9 Thoughts That Can Prevent You From Confronting Depression

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One of the many difficult things about mental illnesses is that an illness can construct a narrative in your head that isn’t necessarily true. With depression, a combination of stigma and difficult-to-pinpoint symptoms may make diagnosis difficult. But the symptoms of depression are well-documented, and the first step is paying attention.

Since depression can alter your thoughts, it can be hard to differentiate when the illness is talking, versus when you are “When we are depressed we are viewing the world through a lens that isn’t congruent with our external reality, but during a depressive episode, our internal reality changes so it seems like things can be hopeless which often leads us to feel helpless,” Travis McNulty, LMHC, GAL, of McNulty Counseling & Wellness, tells Bustle. “ […] Usually depression manifests its form in a cycle of negative thoughts, negative emotions, and negative behaviors that further perpetuate one another.” These negative influences can actually start to convince you that you aren’t dealing with depression.

Some of these self-doubting thoughts may begin to dissipate when you acknowledge that depression is a serious diagnosis, and that you deserve help for the things you’re struggling with. Finding a mental health professional you can trust may help get you there even sooner.

Here are nine thoughts that can mask depression for what it is, according to experts.

1. That It’s Not “That Bad”

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If you’ve been noticing yourself feeling worse and worse for a while, but have a narrative of “I’m fine” running through your head — you may want to examine that thought further.

“One of the biggest lies that depression tells us is that we are OK,” licensed clinical social worker Melissa Ifill, tells Bustle. ” […] Unfortunately, we are often slow to give credibility to [any changes] or are truly unaware of how the depression is impacting us.” So if you find yourself minimizing your feelings, remind yourself that you don’t have to be at absolute rock bottom to deserve help.

2. “I Can Deal With This On My Own”

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Depression is a serious illness, not a burden you have to bare alone. Even if you have been through blue spells before, you deserve help this time around.

“One of the major thoughts people often have when experiencing depressive symptoms is that they do not need help,” Ifill says. “They believe that the mood, feelings or thoughts will go away by themselves or if they keep behaving as if things are OK, they will be eventually.” While some wounds may heal with time alone, it’s OK to admit that you may need the support of friends, family, or a professional, for what you’re dealing with.

3. That Everything Is Bad

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While it’s harmful to downplay your symptoms, it can also be harmful to catastrophize what you’re feeling as well.

“Black and white thinking is a classic thought pattern for those who are experiencing depressive symptoms,” Ifill says. “[…] Having a good supportive network (which should include a helping professional) can assist you in challenging some of these thought patterns and help you to see the more varied perspectives that life has to offer.” Many people have felt like there’s no way out before, and there are a plethora of resources to help.

4. That It Doesn’t Matter Anyways

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Another harmful way depression can try to trick you into thinking you’re not depressed is by telling you that it doesn’t matter either way.

“Depression causes helplessness and hopelessness,” Lara Schuster Effland, regional managing director of clinical operations for Eating Recovery Center’s Insight Behavioral Health Center, tells Bustle. “One may believe they are the problem and [that they are the reason] why they feel lonely and lost.” Blaming yourself for causing the consequences of your depression is hurtful. Finding a therapist or psychiatrist may help you break out of this thought pattern.

5. That You “Just Need A Vacation”

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Minimizing your symptoms does not always take the form of self-blame. Even telling yourself that you “just need a vacation” can be a way that the depression can get ahead.

“Feeling overworked, under-rested, and overwhelmed when depressed [is common],” Effland says. If you have a sense that you’re unable to get ahead, reaching out for support on that level is likely more helpful than a few days off could be.

6. That You’re Fine Because You’re In A Relationship

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Depression doesn’t discriminate. Having depression doesn’t make you ungrateful, either. So if you’re equivocating by telling yourself that you’re fine because you’re in a relationship, have a good job, or have great friends, you may actually be minimizing a serious illness.

“People who have the ‘perfect’ situation aren’t immune to depression, and often depression can come when everything is going well, because it often can’t be explained,” LGBT-affirming therapist Katie Leikam, LCSW, LISW-CP, tells Bustle. It’s important not to discredit your need for support just because things seem good on the outside.

7. That You Don’t Cry Much, So It Doesn’t Count

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While depression can cause symptoms like excessive or easily-triggered crying, that doesn’t mean you should discount all of your other signs of the illness just because you haven’t been experiencing this.

“Depression can present itself in a lot of ways and only one of those ways is tears,” Leikam says. “Depression can also present itself in feeling lonely or numb of emotions and often people who feel numb, aren’t always able to cry.” If you’ve noticed that you’re feeling more apathetic than usual, then it’s a good first step to talk to your doctor.

8. That Excelling At Work Discounts Your Feelings

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Depression doesn’t always take away your ability to function. Many people with depression are still able to go about their daily lives. Just because you’re excelling at work doesn’t mean you don’t have depression.

“You can be on top of your game at work and still have clinical depression,” Leikam says. “Successful people can still have depression. Depression can be a chemical imbalance so it doesn’t discriminate against who has it and who doesn’t have it.” You deserve help even if you’ve been noticing symptoms, but are ignoring them because you think being high-functioning disqualifies you from the support you need.

9. That You’re Just Not “Normal”

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Mental health stigma can be incredibly powerful, especially if you’ve internalized it to the point that you believe something is wrong with you for feeling this way.

“Without an understanding of mental illness individuals often believe that depression is an indication that they’re not normal anymore, and that they are somehow different,” Dr. Neeraj Gandotra, MD, chief medical officer at Delphi Behavioral Health Group, tells Bustle. Reminding yourself that you’re still you, and that any changes to your health are worth taking care of, may help you get the boost you need to seek help.

Separating yourself from the symptoms of your depression can help you from being tricked by negative self-talk. “I like to help my clients refer to their depressive symptoms as ‘the depression,'” Ifill says. This way, you may be able to externalize the symptoms and emotions associated with depression, potentially making it easier to find a professional to support you.

10 Common Signs And Symptoms Of Depression—And When To Get Help

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By Hallie Gould

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 18.5% of adults in the United States experience mental illness every year. That’s a significant portion of our population—one in five people—yet the stigma and misunderstanding that surround mental health remain. If you are feeling symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor to learn more about treatment options.

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We throw around the phrase “I’m depressed” to describe a stressful situation at work or the end of a relationship. But just like the word “crazy,” for which the etymology has shifted over time, depression can often be mistaken for a way to characterize an emotion rather than a mental health issue. It trivializes those who suffer from the disorder, a real chemical imbalance that creates negative and difficult circumstances beyond our control.

Because it all can seem convoluted, the definitions melting into each other, it’s often challenging to know when to seek help. “Treatment should be sought for depression when the symptoms are interfering with the quality of your life,” says therapist and mental health expert Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C. “Depression is treatable, and there is no reason to suffer in silence.”

To get a better understanding of the hallmark symptoms of depression, I reached out to two experts for their opinions and advice. Below, they detail 10 different, common warning signs to look out for. Keep reading for their thoughts.

Next Steps: 

“Any of these symptoms can occur with any of us at any given time, and that can be completely normal,” notes Lindsay Henderson, Psy.D., a psychologist who treats patients virtually via the telehealth app LiveHealth Online. “But if you are experiencing more and more of these symptoms, or they are growing in severity, start paying a bit more attention to how you are feeling overall. If you notice that these symptoms are impacting your overall functioning, it may be time to seek professional help. The good news is that help can come in many forms and individuals have options for how they address their mental health.”

We know that things like social activity, healthy eating, good sleep, and regular exercise all directly contribute to a healthier mood. If you notice yourself experiencing symptoms of depression, take a look at your daily routines and overall physical health to identify areas that can improve. “It can be beneficial to engage in therapy and talk with a mental health professional about what you are experiencing,” says Henderson. “Not only can a therapist help assess and diagnose the experiences you may be having, but they can also offer tips and tools to better understand, manage, and cope with the many complex emotions you feel.”

Here’s the thing: We know the idea of finding a therapist and getting to appointments can be overwhelming. Online therapy can be a wonderful way to break down many of the barriers that can get in the way of accessing therapy, as the appointment can take place wherever you feel most comfortable. Talk to your doctor to make the best plan for you and seek out an appointment with a psychiatrist. Your doctor may talk with you about the pros and cons of taking medication, which can be particularly helpful with depression and anxiety, but not for everyone. It’s best to talk first with a professional about your options before making any decisions.

The Depression Symptom We Rarely Talk About

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By Emily Blackwood

Anyone who has ever gotten cut off in traffic or stubbed their toe on a coffee table knows how quickly anger can go from zero to 100. Most of the time, getting mad is just a part of being human. But in some cases, constant rage could be a sign of a deeper issue: depression.

A 2014 study found that that anger — both overt and suppressed — is actually a common sign of the mental health condition. Psychologists suggest that people who have difficulties coping with their anger are at risk of developing depression. Experts have even described the mental illness as “self-directed anger” or “anger turned inwards.”

“It doesn’t always look like depression, but it is,” said Marianna Strongin, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York.

Research has shown anger is associated with “greater symptom severity and worse treatment response” when it’s part of a mental health condition like depression. That’s why Strongin encourages anyone who is feeling angrier than usual to reach out for help instead of brushing it off.

“A patient will say they’ve noticed, or their friends have noticed, that they’re lashing out more,” she said. “Although they come in to address their anger, when we start digging, the anger is usually a symptom of depression.”

Rather than feeling sad or empty, like we commonly believe people with depression do, some people more quickly turn to anger. Strongin said that’s because it’s often easier to feel angry than it is to experience more morose emotions.

“Sadness is much harder to experience,” she said. “Sadness is a phase, and anger is a verb ― it moves through you. So sometimes [people with depression] distract themselves to not feel sad, so instead, anger gets triggered.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, many of the estimated 16.2 million American adults who live with depression are women ages 18 to 25. But Florida-based psychologist Sherry Benton says it’s typically men who exhibit anger as a symptom.

“Their natural inclination tends to lean toward isolation,” she said. “With this comes the need to withdraw from relationships with others, even ones that are healthy. Anger is a seamless secondary symptom to this, since lashing out is generally an effective method of pushing people away.”

Because men so often push loved ones away and mask their depression entirely, it’s more likely to be deadly. Approximately 17 percent of men will have major depression at least once in their lives, and men are 4 times more likely than women to die by suicide, according to a Harvard Medical School report.

But that doesn’t mean women don’t experience anger as a symptom of depression too. Bess Meade, an art director, designer and writer living in Oregon, was diagnosed with depression when she was 19 and experienced anger as a main symptom. She noticed it was getting out of hand when she snapped at a co-worker during a meeting and broke a window at an ex-boyfriend’s house.

“My mom has commented before that I seem angry, and that I should ‘do something about it,’” said Meade, who is now 29. “I think I had a perception of depression as being a weakness, which I don’t believe at all anymore, but made me hesitant to call a spade a spade when I was younger.”

Meade was able to manage her condition and her anger symptoms through a combination of antidepressants and healthy lifestyle changes.

“I started going to yoga classes while I was really struggling with depression about a year ago, and definitely feel like it has increased my awareness of my body and my breathing, which can sometimes help me get out of a funk,” she said.

“With just anger, it’s never just anger. It’s always symbolic of something not working.”

– MARIANNA STRONGIN, LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST

In addition to medication, breathing practices and exercise, Strongin said journaling can be a beneficial tool in managing anger and getting to the root cause of a patient’s depression. She tells her patients to write down their negative thoughts, then question them and look for evidence that what they’re saying is true.

“If the thought is ‘I’m not good enough,’ I’d ask, ‘How are you not?’” she said. “When you have insecure thoughts, follow them up with answers.”

But no matter what tools you find useful, the first step is getting help. Talking with a mental health professional can help you manage depression and its accompanying symptoms.

“With just anger, it’s never just anger,” Strongin said. “It’s always symbolic of something not working.”

“Living With” is a guide to navigating conditions that affect your mind and body. Each month, HuffPost Life will tackle very real issues that people live with by offering stories, advice and chances to connect with others who understand what it’s like. In February, we’re covering depression. Got an experience you’d like to share? Email wellness@huffpost.com.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

8 Things People With High-Functioning Depression Do Differently

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By Hannah Irelan

1. They lose the happiness in the little things. The things that used to grant them their much-needed escape from the world now feel like burdens holding them down. They aren’t brightened by the idea of joy, they are crushed by it, but they work like hell to participate anyway.

2. They can’t accept the idea that sometimes, mistakes happen, and that doesn’t mean they’ve lost their worth. Mistakes can sometimes feel like a death sentence on our dreams for everyone, but for people suffering from high-functioning depression, mistakes can often be the catalyst for crippling self-deprecation.

3. They never think they’ve done good enough. They are in a constant state of self-doubt. They never feel worthy enough, safe enough, of like they’ve done a good enough job.

4. They’re always tired, but they always show up. While their life may always feel like an uphill battle, they always come with a sword in hand, ready to fight.

5. The little struggles we all face start looking like major hurdles. They are unable to distinguish what is dire and truly difficult, to what their depression is morphing into as a major hurdle in their life.

6. They can’t focus on the future because they are still worried about the past. Working hand in hand with self-doubt, people with high-functioning depression are in constant turmoil about if their life is where it should be.

7. They just can’t slow down. People with high-functioning depression have a leniency towards perfection, and often don’t rest until that standard is met. They struggle to accept anything less than this diluted idea, and oftentimes, this is a struggle that follows them through their entire life.

8. They have good days too. They can push through the bad times and see the good in things, too, but that doesn’t mean that they still aren’t battling with the silent demons they are trying so hard to keep covered.

Acknowledge that you hear them. Give them some love. Believe me, they need it most.