How Do You Know When Your Depression Is Improving?

Depression describes a mood, which we can think of as an emotional climate. We can’t always tell what our mood is based on a single day, just as we can’t know for certain which season we’re in based on the weather; one cold day in the fall doesn’t mean it’s winter, and one day of feeling lousy doesn’t mean we’re depressed. We look for patterns in our emotions and behavior and clusters of symptoms to figure out if we’re depressed.

On the other side of depression, we might not know exactly when it’s lifting. At first, we might not notice the improvements, like the imperceptible lengthening of days as spring approaches. And then one day, we’re struck by the change, like seeing the first crocus popping through the melting snow. We feel a thaw in our numb emotions, a spark of excitement to be alive.

Just as a heavy snow can come after the spring ephemerals emerge, we can feel the first signs of depression abating and then continue to experience symptoms of depression. With continued time and treatment, we can continue toward a fuller recovery.

Look for these signs, among others, that can indicate relief from depression:

1. Less irritability.

We think of sadness as the most common emotion in depression, but irritability is also very common. As you start to feel better, you might notice that you have more patience, and feel less easily put out with others.

2. Greater interest in activities.

One of the defining features of depression is a lack of interest or pleasure in things we usually enjoy. As you start to feel better, you’ll show more interest in your normal activities and start to enjoy them more. Food might even start to taste better.

3. More energy.

Along with more interest, our energy returns as depression lifts. This increase in energy can help us do more of the things we care about, further improving our mood.

4. Feeling less overwhelmed.

Everything can feel difficult when we’re depressed and feeling inadequate to the task. Less depression leads to us feel more on top of our day-to-day responsibilities, as well as able to respond to challenges as they arise.

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