When to Seek Treatment for Depression?

Question by jackson g: When to seek treatment for depression?
I’m 19 years old and have dealt with depression for about the last 4 years. The problem is I’m really not sure to what degree of depression I am suffering.
I saw a counselor over about a 4 month period when I was 17, but he never prescribed me anything (granted I never expressed interest in depression drugs) and from how he acted around me I didn’t get the feeling that he felt I was a serious case. Ultimately I was dissatisfied with his style of therapy and I just stopped going. Nobody -the counselor, my friends or my family- ever said anything about my no longer going which furthered my belief that my depression wasn’t taken seriously.
Currently I am receiving no treatment and I keep my depression to myself. I recently came into a new group of friends and none of them are aware that I’ve ever dealt with depression.
My problem is that I have no way of assessing if my depression is beyond normal. I’ve taken online depression quizzes which usually tell me I am very depressed, but I’m always doubtful of how truly honest I was in answering the questions.
Symptoms wise I feel I am all over the board. My main problems are low self confidence and lack of drive to do anything. I do not suffer from sleep deprivation, my eating habits are relatively normal, I don’t have frequent aches or pain, and I feel that my memory and concentration abilities are fairly normal.
On the one hand I feel as though I have achieved little in my life, but I’d also say I am better off than the average person. I feel I am pathetic in many ways but I also tend to harshly judge others as less intelligent than me.
I think about suicide constantly. The idea of ending my life sounds so sweet so often yet I also know that I’d never actually go through with it. I am apprehensive about many things in my future yet I also believe some things will be better than they are now.
My social skills are difficult for me to peg. I am quiet and I generally don’t go out of my way to talk to people I don’t know. Part of me believes it is a confidence thing because I am very socially adept when dealing with those I know well, however if given a reason to talk to someone, perhaps even someone I respect greatly, I am not shy or scared to be myself. I would consider myself antisocial -I can interact with people, I just don’t like to.
I am currently in an Americorps program which keeps me in close quarters with a group of 10 people with little other interactions. I am one of the youngest in the group (ranging from 18 to 23) but I feel that I’ve garnered a decent amount of respect from the older individuals due to my maturity and responsibility. Despite this I am constantly dwelling over my standing within the group. The slightest gestures will come off as condescension which will send me into episodes of feeling very down. I go between loving and hating the other people on my team on a weekly basis.
The point is, sometimes I feel like I am surely one of the most depressed people on the planet and sometimes I feel I am simply seeking attention. How is one to know which it is? I want to see a therapist, but I’m worried that expressing this would come off as a pathetic plea for attention, granted attention seeking is not generally part of my outward facade.
I realize that this is overly long with very jumbled sentences, and I don’t really expect much in the way of help. Honestly I’m just glad to have all this written down, I think I’ll save it to my notes.
If you do feel like taking the time to read through this and if you do have any advice then I would be very appreciative.

Best answer:

Answer by funone
You are 19 yrs old and you worry that you have not accomplished much in life? Truth is, you haven’t. Just like the 99% of others who are your age. Meaning = you are normal. In fact, everything you’ve said about being apprehensive in public, sometimes not wanting to socialize, getting along well with those you know well, worries about your future… etc. ALL normal. The only thing that causes alarm is your suicidal thoughts. That is not normal. I do not understand the reasons why.

You are young, just starting your life, just beginning to contribute to the world. It takes sometimes decades to make a full, meaningful contribution to the world. You will grow and change in personality and social skills. You will gain confidence in life by living life and experiencing things. A pill is not a healthy way to complete yourself, in my opinion.

Are you working? Are you going to college? If not, why not? Keep yourself busy.

Do not think of suicide. That is a waste of your life. You are here on earth for a purpose. Others in poor health who die or are dying (childhood cancer, accidental deaths, disease, etc) would love to change places with you. You sound like a healthy individual to me. Don’t take that for granted. You are just young and having very normal thoughts about life in general.

Good luck!

Answer by Hope!
When depression stops you from living your life, in the way you want to, then it is a problem.
So, for example, you really want to make dinner for yourself, but you’ve been lying in bed all day, and can’t get up the energy to make it. Or, you really want to go to a party, but know that you won’t be able to cope, so you stay home.. – if depression stops you, then it is a problem. My own feeling is that you are not suffering from clinical depression – you seem to still be functioning fairly well. Thinking of suicide is not indicative of a serious problem – we all do it.. it is a form of ‘escapism’ – and the worse we feel, the more pressure we are under, the more we can think this way.. Keep an eye on this though – only you can tell if you are seriously at risk to doing something or not..

I read your whole post, and this is what I see – you are WAY too hard on yourself. Twice you call yourself, and your feelings ‘pathetic’ – that is harsh.. and also accounts for your low self-confidence.. when someone puts you down all the time, it makes you wonder if they are right, it makes you feel unaccepted, and your confidence and self-esteem begins to be shaken. At least when the comments come from someone else, you can avoid that person, to some degree, and get a break. But when that someone is YOU, there is no break.. you are under attack, and feeling judged 24/7.. and that ALSO explains why you wonder about your standing in the group etc.. you negatively judge yourself, so you think that others do to.. and their ‘condescension’ (perceived or real) is just further ‘proof’ that you are not what you think you should be. You are BELIEVING what you say to yourself, and then projecting this on other people. This has got to stop in order for you to ever be happy.

As an aside: I wonder if you would ever judge others, as harshly as you judge yourself? My guess would be that you never walk up to someone you respect and/or love, and say ‘you and your feelings are pathetic!” Imagine the harm that you would do to that person.. (now, can you see how it harms you?).

ALL of our feelings come from the thoughts we think.
THINK about the funniest joke you ever heard, and FEEL amused.
THINK about something negative and self-defeating, and FEEL depressed, sad, stressed, and down.
THINK about something positive and self-affirming and it is ONLY possible for you to FEEL happy, calm, in control, confident.
Our feelings cannot work in any other way.. so your depression is coming from negative and/or self-defeating thoughts. Period. To prove this, there are people who have lived through terrible ordeals, or are seriously disabled, yet who are happy.. bad circumstances do not need to cause negative feelings. If, for example, someone was to be in a terrible car accident, and can never walk again.. they are not destined to a life of depression. That person needs to start looking at the ‘positive’ in their new life – “I can’t walk anymore, but I can still go back to school, still love my family, still be a good friend, still contribute to society”.

Back to you – I said that your self-talk has got to change in order for you to be happy – because your feelings are based on what you are thinking. I am not suggesting that you lie to yourself, or pretend to be positive.. I am talking about finding the positive in every situation, and respecting yourself. Let’s say you really ARE the most pathetic person on the planet. What good does it do, even if it were TRUE, to tell yourself this? None. It doesn’t motivate you to try harder.. It only makes you feel bad.. So, there is no point to it, see? When negative thoughts come your way, change your focus immediately to something positive – the brain can only hold one thought at a time, so this is possible.. Let’s say you hear yourself say “I am not as good as others”, stop right there and reply, “I reject this way of thinking. This way of thinking serves no purpose and is based only on my perceptions, not on FACT, in most cases. I am intelligent (your post proves that – it’s very well written). I am capable of change. I am committed to my own happiness. I am good at many things, but not perfect at anything – just like everyone else on the planet.”

Lastly, stop TELLING yourself things like “I am depressed” – we become what we think about.. instead give yourself little pep talks “I can handle this”, “I got this” – it really helps. Be your own life coach, and be respectful to yourself at all times.. you will not believe the difference it makes! If this subject interests you, the library is full of books on how to be happy, and the power of positive thinking.

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