Signs You, Like Lizzo, May Be Depressed, According to Doctors
Lizzo—the multi-hyphenate known for singing she's "feeling good as hell"—doesn't always feel that way. She's opened up frequently on social media about her depression, and did so just this weekend. "Today is just not a good day," she said on TikTok on Sunday. "I just want everybody to know that it's OK to not have a good day even when it seems like you should." Her sentiment echoed others she has made in the past. "I'm depressed and there's no one I can talk to because there's nothing anyone can do about it," she wrote on Instagram last year. "Life hurts." "This quarantine has a lot of people suffering from mental health issues because we can't get out and do our normal coping/self-care routines," she said earlier this year. "Self-hatred was starting to creep up on me."
Sound familiar? "If you think you might be depressed, or have some depressive symptoms, you are certainly not alone," says Dr. Teralyn Sell, Ph.D., MS, NCC, LPC. "There are many factors that can contribute to depression like stress (emotional stress, dietary stress, pain) and even the change of season. Right now, due to the pandemic, emotional stress levels are at an all time high as we head into the winter months where light is at an all time low." If you experience any of the following signs, you may be depressed.
"You may experience a sense of complete exhaustion as if you are trudging through the day wearing a pair of cement shoes," says Dr. Sell.
Lack of Motivation
"You might feel as if there is no drive or a motor supporting your fleeting ambition," says Dr. Sell.
You are Having Difficulties Falling or Staying Asleep
"People who feel depressed frequently experience sleep disturbance (difficulties falling or staying asleep, sleeping excessive amounts)," says Joy Lere, Psy.D. "Often people who are depressed wish they could sleep all day but when they lay down in bed at night they cannot fall asleep," says Dr. Sell.
You Feel Extreme Fatigue No Matter How Long You Sleep
"People experiencing depression sometimes feel extreme fatigue no matter how long they sleep," says Dr. Lere.
You Experience a Sense of Hopelessness
"People who are feeling depressed sometimes experience a sense of hopelessness," says Dr. Lere.
"Depression might make your brain feel heavy or foggy," says Dr. Sell. "It clouds emotions and concentration and may contribute to a feeling of overall malaise." Note: Brain fog is also a symptom of post-COVID syndrome; if you are experiencing it, contact your medical doctor.
You Are Sad and Tearful
Crying during an episode of This is Us is perfectly understandable. But if you find yourself crying for "no reason," it may be cause for concern.
"You might get short or snippy with people when you typically wouldn't be," says Dr. Sell. "You are quick to snap off a comment or smirk."
Over Drinking Alcohol or Over-Consumption of Sugar
"When we are depressed we tend to turn to things that are comfortable like a glass of wine, beer or even a big bowl of ice cream," says Dr. Sell. "This provides temporary relief from emotional pain or depression."
Working Too Much or Too Long
"Delving into work is a sign of overconsumption which could be tied to a state of depression," says Dr. Sell. "Work is a way to avoid emotions and it is something that we are typically rewarded by which is starkly different than the emotion of depression."
You Weight/Appetite Changes Quickly
"People who feel depressed sometimes experience significant weight/appetite changes in a short period of time," says Dr. Lere.\
You Can't Spark Joy
"Individuals who feel depressed often struggle to derive joy or happiness from people, places, and things that used to bring them pleasure," says Dr. Lere.
You're Travelling…on a Guilt Trip
"Sometimes people who are feeling depressed carry the weight of a great deal of guilt," says Dr. Lere.
You Have Thoughts About Hurting Yourself or Ending Your Life
"Some people experiencing depression," says Dr. Lere, "have thoughts about hurting themselves or ending their life." If you're thinking about suicide, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
How to Address Your Depression
"It is not surprising that the rates of depression are staggering right now," says Dr. Sell. " The good news is that depression doesn't have to be a life sentence. There are some very easy things that you can do to empower yourself to work through the depressive symptoms and perhaps to set the stage to even feel better than you did before. "
There are several things that you can do if you think that you might be experiencing depression, says Dr. Sell:
- Focus on brain fuel. This means trying to make healthier food choices including protein and whole foods. You can also try some amino acids like 5-Htp or Tyrosine (with doctor permission) This will boost your neurotransmitters naturally (think serotonin, dopamine, etc).
- Check your vitamin D. Many people forget that Vitamin D is an important cofactor for neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) so it is vital in your mood. Asking your doctor for a simple vitamin D check might just lift a bit of that negative mood.
- Move more. During this time of isolation and even the weather becoming cooler, it is important to get outside and go for walks and move around intentionally. Also, just work on moving your body more by doing some easy stretching.
- Work on sleep hygiene. So much of our mood is rooted in sleep issues. Make sure that you work on your sleep hygiene and begin to improve your habits around sleep. Go to bed early and get up at the same time each night. But, more importantly put your electronics down 1-2 hours before bed to allow your brain to wind down for the night.
- Finally, if you just can't shake the depression, seek a professional such as a therapist or even see your doctor to discuss medication options. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.