I have bipolar disorder. It’s been relatively well-controlled for the past several years, but yesterday it occurred to me to wonder if I’m sliding back into a depressive episode. I work hard to be mindful of my mental state so that I can catch swings before I experience suicidal ideation or have delusions of grandeur.
It occurred to me that some of you might benefit from me exploring whether I’m experiencing symptoms of depression. Here are signs of depression along with whether or not I think I have them.
Here are somealong with my current experiences:
Irritability, frustration, or angry outbursts
I haven’t been experiencing angry outbursts. Irritability hasn’t been affecting me much lately. I’ve definitely been feeling more frustrated than usual– when I allow myself to feel any emotions at all. More often, I avoid my emotions by playing games on my tablet while also watching shows on Hulu.
Lack of energy and tiredness – small tasks take great effort
YES – however, I was recently diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, and my new CPAP machine doesn’t seem to be helping much yet. So this symptom is a jump ball as to whether it’s a symptom of depression or a result of not getting a proper night of sleep in who knows how many years. It could also be both.
Self-blame, focused on past failures, feelings of worthlessness or guilt
YES. I’m having severe financial difficulties lately that are entirely related to not focusing enough to make as much money as I could (I’m a full-time freelance writer) and spending too much money on junk food. Hard not to feel worthless and guilty when I need to borrow money from family just to keep my head above water.
Unexplained physical problems like headaches or back pain
Headaches and back pain, yes. Unexplained? Maybe not. I’ve been having more headaches than usual lately, but they could be caused by stress rather than depression. And my back has been killing me lately, but I think that’s a combination of being overdue for a trip to the chiropractor and gaining a few more pounds to my already too-high weight.
Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, tearfulness, emptiness
I rarely cry, but I have come close WAY more than usual for the last few weeks. I don’t necessarily feel hopeless, but I think my optimism is as much a mask as anything.
Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
No, luckily. I spent too many years with suicidal ideation when my bipolar disorder was uncontrolled. I want to catch my depression before it gets that bad.
Loss of pleasure or interest in normal activities or hobbies
Yes and no. I haven’t done any non-work writing in a long time, but I have been focusing on my YouTube channel lately. This one is a toss-up.
Slowed speaking, thinking, or body movements
Anxiety, restlessness, or agitation
I’ve definitely been dealing with more anxiety than usual. Most of the time it feels like there’s a belt strapped around my chest so that I can’t breathe properly. I almost had a panic attack in Walmart a few weeks ago – luckily got me out of there in tact.
Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, thinking, or remembering things
YES. But again, this could be the result of my severe sleep apnea.
Sleeping too much or too little
Yes. It could be because of my sleep apnea, but a week ago, the first time I slept without setting an alarm since I got my CPAP, I slept for 11 hours straight without even waking up to use the bathroom. That’s DEFINITELY unusual for me.
Eating more or less than usual, unintentional weight loss or gain
Yes. A month or two ago, I tried to do Weight Watchers. That lasted a couple of weeks. Now I’m eating as much junk food as I can stuff in. I’ve gained about ten pounds in the last month or so.
Do I have depression?
Maybe. I want to keep an eye on these symptoms and bring them up in my next . Luckily, if I am depressed, it’s only mild depression, and I’m optimistic that I can work my way out of it before it gets worse.
If you think you’ve been experiencing symptoms of depression for at least the last two weeks, talking to a therapist can help you figure out if you have depression and help you come up with a plan to treat it. They’re a great first contract if you think you’re experiencing depression.
You can make an appointment today by emailing or calling 970-498-0709. You don’t have to feel this way forever. I’ve pulled myself out of depression before, and you can too.