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Everyone goes through phases when it feels like the world is working against them. Being stressed at work, mourning the loss of someone close, or generally facing various obstacles can feed into a period of temporary depression. This is normal. However, if you’re experiencing depression that lasts longer than two weeks and is interfering with other areas of your life, it could be more serious.

If you suspect that your symptoms are more than a temporary slump, ask yourself the following questions and seek help from a licensed professional.

1. Are you turning to drugs or alcohol to escape? It’s not uncommon for someone suffering from depression to turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medicating, particularly if they are not receiving professional help. If you’ve been using drugs or alcohol, or are part of a group that’s at high risk for addiction, seeking the advice of a mental health professional could save your life.

2. Do you avoid social situations? Do you often elect to stay home alone rather than join friends for events? If you’re spending more time alone and intentionally skipping out on social interaction with people in your life, this could be a sign that your depression is more serious.

3. Do you feel tired, unfocused, and inattentive? Depression often leaves people feeling fatigued and devoid of all energy and zest for life. At the same time, you may not be sleeping well if you’re up late worrying about the stressors in your life. This may lead to memory and focus problems which can affect school, work, or other areas of concentration.

4. Have you had thoughts of harming yourself or suicide? If you’ve tried to harm yourself, or you’ve contemplated suicide, don’t wait to seek help. Getting professional treatment as soon as possible is essential for anyone who has even thought about suicide.

5. Do you have a short temper, or are you irritable and aggressive? Depression and its symptoms, such as insomnia, can lead those who suffer from it to lash out at the people they love most. If your mood is interfering with your relationships in this way, you may want to consider help.

6. Have you lost interest in activities you once enjoyed? If you’ve always enjoyed participating in recreational sports such as skiing or horseback riding, but suddenly find yourself unmotivated to do so anymore, your despondence might have something to do with it. This may further show that your mood changes are more than a temporary melancholy period.

7. Do you have chronic aches and pains that don’t have a physical cause? When you’re suffering from unexplained aches and pains, the cause might be surprising. Mental health problems—depression in particular—can be the cause of this.

There are other signs and symptoms of depression, and only a licensed mental health professional should determine if you’re suffering from clinical depression. If you’re experiencing one or more of the signs above, however, it’s good to keep in mind what they might mean until you do speak with a professional.

About the author:

Sarah Lockwood is a concerned parent and former social worker. Having worked with the public for decades and after watching her own daughter struggle with addiction, Sarah knows all too well the devastation that can be caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Sarah’s daughter is now in recovery, but her experiences with substance abuse inspired Sarah to get involved with She plans to spread awareness and support through her work for others dealing with addiction. While Sarah devotes a lot of time to the Coalition, she makes sure to relax and enjoy the small things in life, as every day is a gift.