How Do I Know When It's Time to Get Help? (FAQ with Hailey Ray MA, LPC)
Somehow, at some point you stopped being yourself, as if someone took your mind, body, personal relationships, work etc. and messed it all up. You find yourself asking questions like, “How did I get here, I used to be a different person?” In this list I’ve included some clues that your depression has reached a point of needing help, NOW. Here’s a phrase I hear often from our Pastor, Ryan Smallwood at Aldersgate UMC, “It is okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way.” With Depression, there is help and please remember, you don’t have to stay that way.
1. You’ve lost yourself in at least 2 places
If you are acting differently in 2 or more areas of your life, your life is severely impacted by your depression. For example, if you are unable to attend activities with your kids, and for 3 days straight you started to be late to work. Or if because of your depression you do not want to do things but also your productivity at work or during tasks at home have decreased.
2. He or she checked out too
If you have noticed that family members or friends no longer even ask for your help or for you to go someplace with them.
3. You’re being enabled
You notice that there are things that you used to do, that other people in the family start doing for you. Sometimes if someone is a depressed they will decrease normal activities, so those around them will start doing the things that need to be done, such as grocery shopping, cleaning, taking the kids to school, taking the dogs on walks or paying the bills, or mowing the lawn. The family might not ask you to do these things, or you might ask them “Can you do this for me just one time?” However, that one time becomes more than once.
4. Your momma or papa said so
Oftentimes, family members who are close to you notice that you have changed. They might have subtly said various things about your condition or asked questions about you needing to “see someone.” They might tell a story about how a friend had a hard time and they started taking Prozac and now they feel better, or they see a certain counselor and their life has changed. My suggestion is that if someone is hinting that you’re depressed, and that person is someone that you love and trust, you might want to listen to them. It might be hard but engage their concern and talk directly with them about your struggles.
5. Crying AFTER This is Us and not just during the show
If you’re depressed you might cry more often. Many people are abuzz about how the new TV show, This is Us, makes them cry. But if you find yourself crying often, this is a key indicator that your depression is not managed and you might need more help.
6. You’re your own bully
You feel and treat yourself like you are “worthless.” The main purpose a bully has is to make you feel like you are unworthy. Many people who are depressed feel unworthy and their self-talk becomes something like this “I don’t know why God even made me.” Or they say “I just ruin everyone’s life.” This is likely not true, and it is depression in the flesh talking instead of you. I hope you find a deeply rooted apology to yourself and find awareness in your strengths. Unfortunately, some people say things to themselves that they would never think of saying to other people, especially during an episode of depression.
7. Counting sheep doesn’t make a difference
People with depression often have sleep problems. Either they don’t sleep much or they sleep too much. A common sign of depression is when someone wakes up 2 or more hours before they need to. After waking, someone who is depressed can have severely negative thinking patterns.
8. Thinner or fatter, wider or flatter
Weight gain or loss often occurs with depression. If someone who is depressed has lost or gained over 10 pounds in 1 month without trying, it is likely that this is rooted in worsening depression. Sometimes, people with severe depression say that food tastes differently, or that it has lost its flavor. Others become more ravenous and find themselves drawn to carb loaded foods and sugary foods.
9. Your primary care doctor and the staff now know your name.
Depression comes with physical symptoms. People often overlook this sign of depression. If you are getting more migranes, having asthma attacks more often, have unexplained pain, or if you’re a woman and have significant menstral changes that are unrelated to a physical condition please consider that the main issue might be related to your depression.
10. You’re pissed off all the time
This is usually a symptom more common in men and youth with depression but it can occur with women as well. Increased irritability is often swept under the rug and not linked by the average person to depression. When I ask someone if they are depressed they will often say, no I’m not depressed but I’m here because I’m mad at ________, _______, and _________. I have an anger issue.
11. You think this ____ will take the edge off
If you have strongly considered or have started abusing alcohol or any other substance that you think might “help” with your depression, consider taking medication or seeing a therapist before you start or continue an addiction.
So, if you feel after reading this that your depression is significant and you have decided to get help here are some ways to take that first step. Increase your coping skills and self-care strategies. Studies show that exercise helps often as much as anti-depressants. Consider eating healthier and taking vitamins. Vitamin B helps with stress, and a good Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement could help. There are other supplements but due to potential side effects of supplements, I’d strongly advise you to speak with someone who is skilled in understanding herbal medicine so the other options are excluded here. Push yourself to do activities that you enjoyed doing in the past that you have been avoiding. If nothing you can think of is working, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Discuss your symptoms and concerns and see what the physician feels about possibly prescribing medication and/or referring you to a Counselor.
Recognize how common depression is, 1 in every 5 people have an ongoing mental health condition. Seeing a Counselor and taking medication is often the best most holistic form of treatment which gets the best results. You or your spouse might have access to an Employment Assistance Program (EAP) which will help with 3-6 sessions or more of FREE COUNSELING per incident, per year. Check your health insurance plan before paying for out of pocket counseling sessions. EAP sometimes covers help for family members who are wanting to help the person with depression. If you are not the one that has Depression but someone else in your family needs love and support and you don’t know what to do, consider using your EAP program for this.
Please note that sometimes there are drawbacks to getting a formal diagnosis and sometimes when you would like insurance to pay for physician or counseling services a qualifying diagnosis needs to be made to justify medical necessity. If you have concerns, some alternatives exist. To know your options, address these concerns up front with your doctor or counselor.
I love you Warriors, my heart is with you as you go about your journey,
Hailey Ray MA, LPC
6202 Iola Ave
Lubbock, TX 79424