When Should You See a Doctor for Depression?

When Should You See a Doctor for Depression?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is considered the definitive guide to identifying and addressing mental health concerns. It defines depression as experiencing any five of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:

  • Depressed mood most of the day
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities
  • Significant unintentional weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Agitation or psychomotor retardation noticed by others
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death

Although the DSM only requires that symptoms be experienced for two weeks before receiving a diagnosis, many individuals go months or years before reaching out for professional help. Visiting a doctor and therapist sooner rather than later can prevent this mental health disorder from escalating and causing serious disturbances in life, health and happiness, yet misplaced shame and misinformation keep many from reaching out for the help they need.

The DSM lists the clinical and regular signs of depression, but other factors influence when and why an individual should get help. Those who are responsible for the care of others, such as those with children, disabled loved ones or elderly parents, should get help for themselves as soon as possible. The demands of caretaking can trigger depression and lead to poor coping mechanisms such as substance abuse in an effort to continue to meet internally and externally-placed demands on time, emotions and energy. Individuals cannot properly and fully care for the physical and mental health of others if they do not first support themselves.

Jobs are often a source of stress and depression, but they can also indicate when and individual should reach out for help. If work performance and enjoyment have plummeted because of depression symptoms, getting professional help before job loss occurs is of the utmost importance. Companies may provide access to mental health resources, and insurance often covers doctor and therapist visits. Therapy sessions can help individuals move past depression symptoms to determine if their job may be contributing to their mental health struggles or if their depression is contributing to their lack of job satisfaction.

Recognizing the symptoms of depression in yourself or a loved one is the first place to start. Next comes taking action and reaching out for help. Talk with our admissions coordinators about professional treatment options for depression and any co-occurring concerns such as additional mental health issues or substance abuse. We are here for you 24 hours a day, and all calls are free and confidential.