My senior year of college my Dad suggested I go to a therapist. He thought it might help me find some direction. During a hard college career that was interrupted by illness I changed majors three times and still wasn't sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I thought what the heck, I'd give therapy a go. After a few sessions, Dr. Greenbaum said I was depressed. Well blow me down! I wasn't sad or crying all the time. How did he figure I was depressed?
He explained that you don't have to feel sad to be depressed. Sometimes being depressed meant the absence of happiness, feeling 'flat' or 'empty'. There is a condition called dysthymia that is a sneaky form of depression. Not as imminently dangerous as major depression, dysthymia lasts longer, two years or more, is as serious and sometimes even more debilitating than major depression.
Eight potential signs (lasting longer than two weeks) of any kind of depression are:
- Feeling helpless, hopeless, stuck, "What's the point?"
- Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep changes. Insomnia or sleeping all the time
- Agitation or feeling slowed down
- Loss of energy, fatigue, easily exhausted
- Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Concentration problems, indecisiveness, lack of focus
Dr. Greenbaum taught me that being diagnosed with a chronic illness hit me harder than I wanted to admit, even to myself. He helped me get my head out of the sand and start living again.