When Is It Time To Ask For Help?
We all have days when we feel a little down and wrestle with negative thinking and bouts of pessimism.
Life can be overwhelming and wear us down to the point of being tired, exhausted, and unable to focus.
It can be something as serious as an unexpected loss or tragedy, failure, or a relationship crisis to something less drastic, such as side effects from medication, not getting enough rest, or not eating correctly.
The blues affect every area of our lives, including our marriage.
But at what point, though, do pessimism and negative thinking slip into full-on depression?
Even experts wrestle with answering that question.
It might be more helpful if we knew when to ask for help. Let’s try to first recognize the symptoms and then dig down to the root causes.
According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center, here are some common symptoms of depression:
Sleeping too much or too little.
Eating too much or not enough.
Fatigue. Little to no drive or energy.
Frequent headaches, stomachaches, or inexplicable aches and pains.
Losing interest in previously pleasurable activities, such as going out with friends, sports, hobbies, sex, etc.
Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
Neglecting responsibilities and personal appearance; not taking care of one’s self.
Depressed mood: feeling down, irritable, pessimistic, guilty, anxious, empty, foggy.
Despair: feeling hopeless or helpless; giving up.
Feelings of worthlessness – that you don’t matter, self-shaming.
There are two things we should take note of if you struggle with these symptoms: 1. Your life and relationships are most likely struggling, and 2. It’s probably time to ask for help to get your life back and be happy again.
Now that you know some of the symptoms, here are some possible contributing factors to depression:
Cramped living conditions, bad roommate situation, money issues, car problems, holidays you’re not looking forward to, struggling with classes, feeling overwhelmed and pressured, feeling helpless to change your situation, loss of something significant (a job, dream, house, etc.), being victimized (assault, robbery, rape, work trauma, etc.).
Relationship problems, divorce or breaking up, family conflict, the death of someone you care about, the anniversary of a loss, feeling like people are exploiting you or taking advantage of you, unresolved anger or guilt, feeling helpless to make changes, especially in meaningful relationships.
Genetic predisposition (depression runs in the family), chemical imbalances, dealing with illness or infection, sleep deprivation, chronic anxiety.
Surviving on fast food, consuming too much sugar or caffeine, using alcohol to cope, abusing substances, or neglecting exercise and physical activity.
Self-criticism, pessimistic thinking, complaining, finding fault, seeing the worst, expecting the worst.
Doubts about the meaning of life, questioning your faith, compromising your beliefs and spiritually, living to satisfy yourself at any cost, selfish ambition, not giving back, feeling that you’re missing out on your calling – what you were born to do – or not being true to yourself, dreams, beliefs, or values.
As you can see, there can be many reasons and causes for depression and despair. It isn’t about “stop your whining and put your big girl or boy pants on” and getting on with it!
Unless addressed, this emotional environment will erode every area of your life, including the quality of your relationship with your spouse.
If you’ve been experiencing some of these symptoms for a while now, it’s probably time to find a mental health professional and call them, even if you don’t know the underlying cause, which they will help you figure out.
Look, you wouldn’t be embarrassed about going to the doctor if your physical body was sick, so neither should you feel a certain way about finding someone who can help heal the emotional/mental dimension of your being; you’re a whole person who deserves to be happy in ALL of your being.
At the end of the day, your relationship with your spouse tends to be as happy and healthy as you are, and vice-versa, generally speaking. Unlock your best marriage by asking for the help you need to feel and be whole again.