Feeling sad or blue from time to time doesn’t mean that you’re depressed. It only means that your life is like the life of any other human being; consisting of cycles when you’re feeling great and cycles when you’re feeling not so great.
On the other hand, if you are depressed, you’re overwhelmed with dark feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. These feelings are often accompanied by guilt and shame. You feel like a black cloud is constantly hovering over your head.
Women of all origins are two times more prone to depression than men. According to the National Mental Health Association, about one in every eight women will develop depression at some point during her life.
Being an African-American woman suffering from depressed is even more difficult, because society imposes the ‘Strong Black Woman’ role on African-American women. So many African-American women tend to hide their depression and try to lead a normal, day to day life. However, this is not possible (or it is extremely difficult), because depression influences every area of life. It can affect your social life, relationships, career, and a sense of self-worth and purpose.
To find out if depression is preventing you from living a fulfilled everyday life, answer the following questions.
Are you depressed?
Think through and answer the following questions honestly:
- Do you have difficulty sleeping at night?
- Do you sleep too much and have difficulties getting up in the morning?
- Is it difficult for you to concentrate?
- Do you find that previously easy tasks are now difficult to handle?
- Do you often feel hopeless and helpless?
- Are you overwhelmed with negative thoughts that you can’t control no matter how much you try?
- Did you lose your appetite?
- Are you overeating or can’t stop eating?
- Do you have suicidal thoughts or recurrent thoughts of death (seek help immediately if this is the case!)?
If you answered affirmatively to several questions, you might be suffering from clinical depression. Next step for you is to find professional help.
Signs and symptoms of depression
Here follows a list of depression signs and symptoms:
- Feeling helpless and hopeless. It seems like nothing will get better; you are out of control, and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t feel joy and pleasure in doing things you’ve once enjoyed, like hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex.
- Significant weight loss or weight gain. Your appetite has changed, and you’ve gained or lost more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Changes in sleeping pattern. You either suffer from insomnia or oversleeping (hypersomnia).
- Loss of energy. You often feel fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Feelings of self-loathing and self-hatred. Strong feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself (and others); you only see faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behaviors, such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. You often have trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Feeling unexplained aches and pains. On a physical level, depression may appear as frequent headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
Now, you’re familiar with depressed signs and symptoms. If you think you might be depressed, take the first step and seek help. First step is the most difficult to take, but it’s well worth it.