Am I Getting Depressed.

Home > Depression
1 Oct 2018 (updated 5 Sep 19 )

Recognising that you may be sliding into a Depression episode.

You are going to have to learn to recognise the signs that you are sliding into Depression. What it means is that you are going to have to learn the symptoms of early Depresssion (see 18 Signs of Depression), and then monitor yourself constantly to make sure they aren't happening.

Learning to do the constant monitoring is not terribly difficult but it DOES take quite a bit of practice to learn to do it effortlessly. Expect that you'll take a few months before you get the hang of monitoring yourself - and you'll still miss the signs sometimes.

This link explains WHY monitoring yourself benefits you and your family and friends.

If you think you might be getting Depressed or if you are not sure if you are Depressed, ask yourself

1. Am I able to Focus?

2. Am I having difficulty Getting Things Done?

3. Am I having general anxiety although there is no obvious reason?

Do NOT think first on how awful your life is, or that you are a terrible person, or that you don’t want to see your friends or answer the phone or go to work. Do not think about the fact that you have no self confidence and how much everything hurts. These are the wrong things to be thinking about first. They are definitely symptoms of Depression, but they are NOT the most important symptoms.

Ask First: Can I Focus?

Here's how to tell if you can focus.

1 : Pick a straightforward task that has a number of steps.

It doesn’t have to be a complex task – I think about putting out clean water in the dog bowls. You can think of washing the dishes, or getting dressing and going to the cinema.

2 : Now try visualising each step of the task.

I think about the order I will fill each water bowl, and the steps I need to fill each bowl (empty the bowl in the garden, add new water, repeat for next bowl). Or I try to do the task – I go ahead and fill the bowls with clean water.

No dogs? Try thinking of showering and shaving and dressing (including putting on socks and shoes) and organising your wallet / keys / phone and leaving the house and travelling to the cinema.

3a : I can visualise the steps!

If you can visualise the steps you need to do, or if actually doing the task is easy (because it’s obvious what the next step is), then you can Focus. Yay!!


3b : If you are having trouble visualising the steps of your task

Or if you try doing the task but you have to stop to think what the next step is,

Or if it is hard to concentrate on what you usually do effortlessly the whole process seems like too much work (e.g. - you want to go to the cinema, but changing and travelling and getting there on time is just SO MUCH effort work - too much effort).

Or if you get distracted and instead of doing the next steep, you wander away and something else

If any of this is happening, then you’re having trouble Focusing.

Notice that having trouble Focusing can affect even simple tasks, or things you regularly do, or habits that you do daily.

You’ll find if simple tasks or regular habits are difficult to focus on, bigger plans for the day or the week will be difficult to focus on too. And you’ll find yourself getting frustrated.

Ask Next: Is it Difficult to Get Things Done?

Difficulty in Getting Things Done is related to Difficulty in Focusing. Obviously if you can’t Focus, it’s hard to get anything done.

Here's how to tell if you're having Difficulty in Getting Things Done?

1 : Difficulty in Getting Things Done is a physical thing.

It’s the I just can’t get out of bed, or I just can’t brush my teeth, or I just can’t make coffee this morning, or I just can’t get ready to go to my nephew’s birthday party.

You know what to do, but it’s just not happening. Somehow, you aren’t getting around to actually doing it. You'd plan to wash the dishes and then you'll pause to read your WhatsApp and 30 minutes later you still won't have started doing the dishes. And so you'll try again, because you know the dishes do have to be washed, but then you sit down and watch tv or read some pages from your novel or change water in the dog bowls. Or something. Something always derails you and hours later the dishes will still be in the sink.

And this happens for every task you try to do - you don't get around to doing it.

It’s the famous "I just can’t" depression symptom and it’s probably the most obvious signs that you’re Depressed.

Together, the inability to Focus and the inability to Get Things Done will shut you down. You’ll be sitting there unable to get anything done and unable to focus your mind on what you should do next to get you out of your frozen state.

When this happens to me, I usually end up surfing the internet, or reading trashy Science Fiction or Victorian Romance novels, because that’s all I can do.

Sometimes Focus / Getting Things Done are only Partial Problems

Here’s another complication. The inability to Focus or inability to Get Things Done doesn’t have to be at a 100% shutdown. In milder Depression, you can run at say 40% or 60% shutdown. So you can Focus, but not too good, so things are harder to do than usual. And you can Get Things Done, but you aren’t as competent or efficient as you usually are and they take longer.

The partial shutdown doesn’t sound terrible, but it is. You’ll find that tasks remain undone, meetings with friends don’t happen, the house gets messier, etc., and a whole heap of tasks start piling up. This is enough to throw a major wrench into how your life is going and can substantially derail it.

If this mild Depression continues for a week or a few weeks – which is very possible – the sheer number of things that you have failed to do can overwhelm you. You'll feel as if you aren’t in control of your life, you'll feel frustrated, you'll feel nothing is going your way, you'll feel embarrassed for letting others down, and you'll feel your self worth slipping as nothing you want to do gets done properly.

In short, over time a milder Depression will trigger almost all of the other self worth symptoms that are considered typical of a Major Depression episode.

It’s pernicious.

If you recognise this is happening to you, check out the I'm Depressed. What do I Do Now? for some ideas on what to do.

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