Why Am I Depressed? Find Your Answer Here.
Ever noticed life has lost its shine, becoming some mediocre hue of blue, and not know why? When depression creeps in, passion and joy slip away and life becomes a daily grind of going through the motions. “But why” you may ask – no one wants to feel depressed, and no doubt if you are reading this you probably want to find your mojo back ASAP.
Understanding why you are depressed is the first question you need to figure the answer out to because once you know why you are depressed you will know what’s required to change your mood and get that mojo back!! This article is your guide to answering that ever important question “why am I depressed”.
Here are three key questions to ask yourself in order to figure out “why am I depressed”.
Q1. When did I start feeling down?
When you reflect back, when did you start feeling down? When did your mood change? Was it yesterday? A week ago? Maybe it was six months or more ago. Really think about it as identifying the time that your mood changed can give important clues to what may have contributed to the mood shift – you will see what I mean in the next question.
Q2. At the time my mood changed, what else changed?
So now you know when your mood changed, think about what else changed at that time. Depression is a normal emotional reaction to loss, so look for themes of change and loss. Some changes will be easy to spot because they involve major life events such as changing jobs, going through a relationship break-up, moving house, or a close friend or family member died.
Other changes may be more subtle and will require you to think longer and harder. Examples of subtle changes may be that you stopped attending your regular exercise class, your partner has been working longer hours, you’ve been drinking a few more wines on a few more nights than usual, or the children have been exceptionally frustrating this week. For women, perhaps it’s just before “that time of the month” and there has been a hormonal shift related to pre-menstrual syndrome.
These events on their own don’t cause depression per se, but how you perceive these events and changes will hold the key. Which leads to my next question.
Q3. What is the meaning of my change or loss?
A well-researched and evidenced-based treatment for depression, cognitive therapy, states that it is our interpretation of events, what we think about the change or loss, that will influence our mood. Our brain is a thinking machine, and through our constant thought and analyses, we create meaning of our life.
Working from our previous examples you would ask yourself – what did it mean to change jobs? Perhaps the previous job provided better job satisfaction than the new job? Maybe you really miss the relationships you had at the previous workplace and the new workplace isn’t so supportive?
What did it mean to lose your partner? Perhaps life feels a little more empty, or a lot more lonely now without that special person in your life.
Why does my partner working longer hours make me depressed? Oh, because I miss him!!
So that question again – what does the event or change in your life mean to you?
Hopefully by now, you have worked out your answer to “why am I depressed”. If not, spend more time now reflecting upon the answers to these three questions and when you have the answers, there is just one more question:
Q4. What can you do about it?
So now you understand what triggered your mood change, you will probably have a few ideas on what you can do to “improve your mood”. Often the answer to feeling better flows naturally from understanding the cause.
For example, now I know it’s the change of jobs and the loss of friendships from the old job that is getting me down, I could put more effort in to building new relationships in my new job. Or now I know I’ve been feeling down this week because my partner has been away, I can schedule a “date night” for that extra closeness that I’ve been missing. Or now I’ve recognised this is a pre-menstrual mood shift, I can take comfort in knowing that this shall soon pass and in the meantime I can schedule in some extra self-care whilst riding out the hormone turmoil.
What would make you happy right now? Make steps, no matter how small, towards your happiness today.
What to do if you still don’t know why you’re depressed
Even though I’ve simply posed three questions to help you find out why you may be depressed, it isn’t always easy to identify your “why”, at least on your own. Perhaps its because there just hasn’t been any changes or losses you can identify that would trigger you to feel down, or, maybe, and hopefully not, you’ve been depressed for so long now you’ve forgotten what originally triggered the depression and now the depression could be maintained by the clinical features of depression.
If this is the case, I recommend you see your GP and seek a referral to a psychologist soon. A psychologist will complete a thorough assessment and help you to find out why you are depressed. Left untreated, a dull day can turn to blues which in turn can lead to further depression. Seeking help early is best for you and your health.
Further helpful links:
Written by Dr Karen Gallaty, a clinical psychologist and life warrior. You too can become your own life warrior.