Depression is common-in any given year, approximately 7.1% of adults in the United States experience major depressive disorder. To put that into perspective, about 18 million adults in the United States deal with diagnosed depression each year.
If you struggle with depression, you may notice that symptoms can come in waves. As a result, some days feel more challenging than others. Sometimes, it’s possible to muscle through and try a tool you’ve learned in therapy. Other times, it feels like things just keep getting worse, which can leave you feeling hopeless.
The good news is there is hope. Ongoing or persistent depression can be treated with individualized support. Different things work for other people, and treatment should be specific and catered to your unique needs.
How do you know when your depression keeps getting worse? And if that happens, what do you do next?
Know Your Signs
Symptoms of depression vary and will look different for each individual. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
Persistent sadness or low mood
Overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame
Physical aches or pains
Loss of interest in things you enjoy
Changes in sleep patterns
Thoughts of taking your life by suicide (passive or active suicidal ideation)
Your symptoms may look a lot like the list above, or look like something else entirely. You are the expert on your experience. Getting to know your signs of worsening depression is vital to accessing appropriate support.
You may also notice that your symptoms fluctuate throughout the year. Pay attention to any patterns you notice. This information can be helpful as you work through your depression.
You Know Your Signs, Now What?
You’ve recognized the signs and are aware that your depression is getting worse--now what? There are a variety of evidence-based treatment models for depression. Different types of support will work for different people.
The Power of Behavior
Behavioral activation is an evidence-based tool for combatting depression. If you notice that your symptoms of depression include a lack of energy or motivation, behavioral activation may be a helpful tool for you!
Behavioral activation is the process of actively choosing to change your behavior to improve your mood over time. It works by reconnecting with experiences that give you positive reinforcement. For example, if you feel depressed and want to stay in bed all day, behavioral activation may have you go for a walk instead.
This process is focused on building healthier coping skills for long-term wellness. In that example, getting outside for a walk may not feel as good as staying in bed. But, over time, you may notice that a daily walk leads to improved mood and helps lessen your depression.
Talk to a Doctor
If you notice your depression is consistently worsening, it may be time to speak to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to provide referrals for additional care, as well as discuss your options for medication.
If you are on medication and notice a significant change in your mood, it is important to follow up with your prescriber to ensure that your medication is managed appropriately.
There are many tools, such as behavioral activation, that you can try on your own. However, many treatments for depression are most helpful when supported by a mental health professional. Professional therapy is another valuable tool in helping heal from depression.
Therapists use a wide variety of techniques and styles. In all types of therapy, the most important factor is the relationship between you and the therapist. Take the time to find someone you feel comfortable with, or get a recommendation from someone you trust.
Therapy can be short- or long-term based on your needs and preferences. Effective individual therapy can be one of the most helpful tools in supporting yourself through depression. You may also be interested in a support group or other type of group therapy available in your area.
If Your Depression Keeps Getting Worse, You Are Not Alone
Depression is common. It is so common that it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression often co-occurs with many other physical or mental health concerns. If you are experiencing depression, it may be helpful to know that you are not alone.
Symptoms of depression can come in waves and may persist over a long period of time. If you notice your depression is continuing to worsen, talking to a professional can help.
Professional counselors, therapists, and doctors can help you identify the tools that will be most supportive as you treat your depression. You may benefit from individual therapy, group therapy, medication, or connecting with a support group. You can heal from depression, and help is out there.
At The Mental Health House, we understand the complexity of depression. We are here to provide you with the compassionate support you deserve. Contact us today to learn more.