People are often sad or lonely at certain times in their life, such as after a breakup in a relationship or losing a loved one. And after such a loss, often our concentration and memory can be negatively affected. These are normal reactions to loss and usually resolve on their own over time.
But if you’re sad and lonely for no reason, and suddenly find that your concentration or memory is slipping, you may have something else — depression.
These are a handful of symptoms most commonly a sign of depression, a serious mental health concern that is characterized by having the majority of the following:
- Having a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, such as feeling sad, lonely or empty
- Seriously diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
So while it’s understandable that you may be sad or lonely after a loss, and have trouble concentrating at work or other tasks in your every day life, it’s not a common experience to have these kinds of symptoms outside of a significant loss in your life. Such signs may indicate depression, or some other mental health concern.
Depression requires your attention — while it may go away on its own over time, for most people, it does not (or may take months or even years to do so). If you’ve been feeling this way longer than two weeks, and nothing you’ve done has seemed to help you feel better, it’s not your fault. Don’t berate yourself for feeling the way you do, just get help.
To learn more about depression, where and how to get help, and what kind of help is available, please review our Guide to Depression, available for free on our website.