By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
It’s finally here! Patio Season! So you’re gonna round up a group of friends and do margaritas this Friday at five o’clock on the dot, right? Right?!
Well, maybe not. What happens when Spring has sprung but you still don’t feel like getting out with pals, preferring instead to get under the covers with cookies? When isolation seems much more appealing than connecting with others, it may be important to begin assessing yourself for signs of depression. Depression isn’t strictly a Winter-related situation, despite what we may have been led to believe. If you find that you’re suffering from depression symptoms, prioritize yourself and your mental health so you can get back to the things you love most, whether they take place on a patio or anywhere else. Here are my Top Tips for beginning to assess yourself for symptoms of depression. Do you notice yourself:
- Hiding out. If you find yourself sending all your calls to voicemail and breaking plans with friends, you may be isolating yourself from loved ones. If you are typically a social person and are noticing a change in your social behavior, this may be a sign that something is off.
- Spending the weekend in bed. Everyone loves a little Sunday sleep-in, but if you find that you’d rather be in bed than anywhere else, take notice. Changes in sleep behaviour, whether you’re oversleeping or experiencing symptoms of insomnia, are one sign of depression.
- Eating the whole tub of ice cream. We’ve all heard the expression “eating our feelings” in relation to sadness, and there’s a good reason for it. When our mood is low, we often crave sweets, snacks, or comfort foods. If you notice yourself over indulging, perhaps to the point of regret, take note. Alternatively, if you find your appetite has taken a hit, this may, too, be a factor to consider. If it’s not your usual behaviour, it is something to note.
- Swinging moods like Tarzan on a vine. If you’re chill one minute and livid the next (without reasonable provocation), this is something to be aware of. Frequent changes in mood, especially if you’re typically stable, is a common symptom of depression.
- Pulling the ol’ “I have a headache.” Reduced sexual drive is another common depression symptom. If you or your partner has noticed a change in your desire to get down, take note of it. This applies to solo sex, too.
These are just a few of the common symptoms of depression. If you are noticing a few of these in combination, don’t panic. Self-diagnosis is not the goal here, but rather paying attention to changes in your usual mood or behaviour to give you valuable information into your mental health state. Remember: The key is to notice changes from your typical state. Everyone gets a little down at times, but if these symptoms have been persisting for six months or more, it is likely time for help. If you are concerned that you may be depressed, consult a professional to assess and get yourself back on track. No one wants to spend these precious Summer months alone with the TV. (Netflix and chill notwithstanding.)
**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.