How can I tell if I'm depressed?

Earlier today, I visited my GP and told her that I was feeling depressed. The appointment felt a little rushed, and I left with a prescription for some Fluoxetine and a lot of questions and doubts. I don't really have anyone else to talk to about this, so I figured I'd come here. See, I don't really feel like I'm depressed. I've read the symptoms, and a lot of them match, but it doesn't seem real. Like it isn't happening to me, and I'm just a "normal" person who needs to pull himself together.

I just feel really empty. Hollow and hopeless. I don't have dreams or aspirations. But I feel like I've always been this way. Like it's just my nature to be miserable. I look at other people who like to go on holidays, or have hobbies, or dream jobs and things like that and wonder why I've never been able to feel that way about anything. And then I convince myself that it's just because everyone's different, and it's normal. That there's nothing special or unique about the way I'm feeling. It's just because I'm content to be lazy and alone.

I don't really do anything with my time. I sit around in my chair, eating when I'm hungry and sleeping when I'm tired. I listen to the same music over and over. I watch videos on youtube. I used to play video games, but online communities are quite daunting now. I do whatever I can to just distract myself as the hours fly by, until it's time to sleep. I'm unemployed, but I can't bring myself to apply for jobs, or education. Every idea seems like a bad one. I keep imagining going to an interview, and having to explain why I've been out of school for four years and only worked for one. I don't even have the energy to spend on it. But I've never really been active or enthusiastic about things. Am I just naturally lazy?

I can't tell the difference between what's in my nature, and what's depression. I've always been like this, or at least I think so. Am I being pessimistic because I'm in a bad place right now? I've certainly had my good moments in life. I had friends once. I was smart and funny. Surely I can't have been miserable all this time. But depression is a serious thing. What if I'm not depressed, and I'm just trying to hide behind a label so I can carry on being me?

I don't know. I'm finding it hard to focus. It took about over half an hour to type this out. Who can tell if I'm depressed if I can't really do that myself? I don't really have any friends left, my GP felt dismissive, and when my mum suffered from depression it looked more serious that what I feel like I'm going through. Any help?

12 Replies

  • There are a couple of thoughts.

    With a family history of depression, do you need to go that far before you get treatment?

    Second, I started treatment at a similar point in my journey. It was the right thing

  • Is depression something that works like that? My mum mentioned that she'd felt depression in bursts ever since she was a teenager. I'll do some research and see if I can settle some doubts. Thanks for responding, really appreciate it.

  • I have an exceptional multigenerational family history with a very high incidence - and we have read the literature which says that there is a large element of inheritance.

    I've had 4 major episodes and multiple minor ones - meds don't "cure" me, they just keep me in a state where with good self care I am functional. Miss the self-care and I get ill again.

    With the side effects, this is the problem of informed consent. I have a couple of pesky side effects from my drugs which are very uncommon. Never had the common effects as listed. My drug that works is 3rd line after the SSRI drugs and a drug called Mirtazapine

  • That's interesting. I always thought that depression was something that hits you in life, a result of external events and issues. I guess you never really learn what it is until you suffer from it.

    I'm not so worried about the side effects themselves (I say, when I'm not currently suffering any), but it's more about whether I'd be exposing myself to them for no reason. I've had some really good responses though, it's all helping. I'll probably start taking mine over the weekend, while the rest of my family are off work. I'll feel safer with someone else around.

    I'm sorry to hear that you're suffering some side effects though. Must be awful to take something to try and help only for it to hit you somewhere else. Thanks again for taking the time to try and help me out.

  • I count my side effects as annoying because in some ways they are just that - comparable to having pimples rather than skin cancer ;)

    Overall, I'd rather have the side effects than my unmedicated or under medicated mental state. During my last acute episode my record for sleeping in one day was 20 hours, and I got a panic attack when the takeaway shop said I had to choose another item on the menu having spent 5 minutes figuring out what I wanted only to find out it was sold out!

    Depression can be both endogenous (inborn) and reactive (situational). If I get a bad situation like I had last year, I will relapse from what is usually pretty good management of my genetic condition.

    The big difference this time is I'm planning to change my situation pretty radically to reduce the long term likelihood of situation triggers being THAT bad again.

  • I often label myself things like lazy and miserable. Please don't undermine how you feel :( Funny you should mention having no aspirations too - I was thinking earlier that I haven't had any aspirations either. But probably one of the things about depression that hold people back the most is the lack of motivation - I struggle to build up enough motivation to get me though the day, so aspiring to achieve something has just been impossible. Hopefully if you get on the right meds, with the right strength to suit you, you'll start feeling more aspirational and come to life :)

    Oh also, GPs often are dismissive - they're very clinical and this isn't really their forte. A counsellor will be a lot more help - they'll be interested in what you have to say and how you feel. If I give any advice it would be go to a counsellor. You may only need one session if you've had no trauma, just so they can explain things to you and give you a bit of direction - but it will help, I promise :)

  • It's just hard to think in such absolutes. Saying "I'm depressed" feels like I'm exagerrating. Whenever I thought about depression in the past, I always thought that it was a crippling sadness. That it makes everyone who suffers from it feel awful all the time without exception, and that it's a really serious thing that ruins lives. I know it's not that, and that it affects everyone differently, but it's just hard to shake the feeling that I'm wrong, and that I don't really deserve the kind of treatment and support because there's people who genuinely need it. It doesn't feel real, like it isn't happening to me. I might be in denial, I don't know.

    I never really understood why I never felt motivated for things before. I always figured that I just had to look harder, and find something that would motivate me. But the real kicker is when you don't feel motivated enough to find motivation. Where you don't care enough about yourself to even want to dig yourself out of the hole you're in. I've talked to a couple of people about it now, and they treat it as if there's a really big wall between me and my life, and all I need to do is get treatment to break down that wall and then I'll be able to carry on with my life. But it's more like a series of walls, where even getting treatment is behind one.

    I asked about counselling when I was at my GP, but I don't really know how to go about getting something like that. When I asked if she could help, she said it was mostly for people who had specific issues, who knew what was getting them down. I couldn't put my finger on just one thing in our appointment, nor could I bring myself to claim my issues were so extreme they'd be making me depressed.

    Thanks for responding though, I'll keep your advice in mind. Really appreciate it.

  • Having read a number of your posts I can say at the ripe old age of 63 that I felt the same for most of my life and wish I had requested help sooner but thought I was wasting people's time as their was nothing specific I could put my feelings down to. I eventually had to seek help as my employer was getting fed up with me and I kept going to the GP asking for different tablets that in the end she referred me to counselling which has helped enormously along with medication but I think because I didn't insist earlier it is taking a lot longer for me to become positive about things, from what you have said you are still young and with the right help and guidance I am very sure that things will turn around for you a lot faster, so keep going back to the doctor, if this medication doesn't work try others until something does and INSIST on being referred to a counsellor.(You are worth it and it does help).

  • You mention your mum, is she around to ask what she thinks? Do you think there are any physical causes for the lack of energy? You said you had felt this way for about as long as you can remember, children do get depression as well, not just adults. Appointments are set at a standard ten minutes, so there is not a lot of time to talk, and some of that will be spent typing up notes..... As a stranger reading the tone of your post, it does sound like a depressed person, and if you talked in the same way to the g.p. he was likely to see you as being depressed.....

    I would give the meds a chance, see what happens, it will take a few weeks before you see if they help. If you decide against taking the meds right now ----check out some self-help advice on how to lift your mood, and how to make your thoughts more positive.

    You might have seen your mothers' depression as being much more serious, but from what you say your life is being badly affected, and something has to change.

  • My Mum believes I'm depressed. She was the one who told me to talk to the GP, because I had made the appointment for something unrelated (a skin condition). I didn't really want to mention it myself, but that's parents for you. As for lack of energy, the obvious culprit would be the fact that I've been steadily gaining weight. Sitting around all day eating sugary things is a bad move, and it makes me feel pretty sick, but it doesn't take as much effort to buy a bag of crisps or some chocolate as it would to cook properly. I'm not sure whether that's all a symptom or a cause though.

    I was never really expecting anything from the GP. I knew that, logically, nothing would get resolved in that 10 minutes. I'd never make a complaint or anything because I'm sure she did the best she could. But when someone is trying to ask how you feel using 'Yes' or 'No' questions, it's a bit difficult. There was always a gray area, and I was being asked to be decisive, you know? Like asking whether I'd thought about suicide, or whether I had trouble sleeping, things like that. I wanted to add a big "but" on the end of all my answers, but it was clear she wasn't looking for it. I dunno. It was just pretty disheartening. I'd not felt so anxious for anything in a long time as I made my way there, and I left feeling like I was about to break down and cry in the middle of the street.

    I haven't taken the meds yet. I've been too scared, in all honesty. The list of side effects is intimidating, regardless of the probability of me suffering them, and when I'm having a moment of convincing myself that I'm not even depressed, it feels even more risky to take a pill I might not need.

    Thanks for the response, I appreciate it. I felt awful when I made this post last night. I'm relieved it wasn't ignored.

  • on a channel four program the doctor Are not listerning to your needs there giving you what they Think are best for them selfs I am insomica now One thing u need to be going to super drug which give u high and lows which are called karms they help you to Sleep but next day u cant sleep at all

  • Hi

    I am sorry you had a poor experience with your GP but it is good that you have the confidence to come onto the website for further support.

    It sounds as though you have given up on trying to live life to the full. You wonder whether it is just your nature or actual depression but it is not possible to separate out nature from nurture in that way. Whatever the reasons, you are unhappy and are wanting someone to help you to understand why - that suggests a talking therapy would be of more long term help. Meds may lift your mood a little but relying upon them without understanding the causes of your low mood may lead you to become increasingly reliant upon them. Why not go back to your GP in a few weeks when the meds have had time to take some effect, tell him whether they are being helpful but explain you might find it helpful to talk things through with someone who can enable you to understand why you are more withdrawn from the world than you once were.

    Having just read your response to an earlier reply, it seems your mum was concerned about your mood at a time when you hadn't realised there was anything wrong with it. You ask whether doing nothing much with your life and being unable to find meaning in life is just normal - it is common but it is not mentally healthy. I think it is very sad and that it is generally a sign of underlying depression which might go back to experiences that were much earlier in life, perhaps a lack of feeling known and understood by others, a lack of real connection. Attachments are the basis of good mental health in which life has meaning, so perhaps you have not felt securely attached at a really deep level. I think whatever the source of your emptiness you would find talking therapies helpful if you are able to access them. You may find that initially you are offered a short period of CBT in order to try to life your mood but if that does not help I suggest you ask to be referred for in-depth psychotherapy. It would be sad to spend the rest of your life feeling it does not have meaning and that there is nothing much in you, life is too short for that waste. .


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