HELENA — The pandemic has put pressure on many Montanans, causing additional stress, anxiety, and depression. Suffering from depression and feeling the blues are not the same thing though, and it’s important to understand the differences.
Jennifer Preble is a clinical social worker for Lewis & Clark County. She says it's essential to check in with how you feel inside or the behavior you find yourself doing.
"You might have a couple of days where you are staying up or really worried and then you might have a couple of days where you are really exhausted and sleeping. Those types of days that aren't within a full year that's an absolute typical response to the trauma that is associated with the social isolation that many of us have experienced," Preble said.
If the loss of sleep or fatigue is for a few days, that could be a person experiencing the blues. However, if it lasts longer the individual should consider speaking with a professional counselor about depression. "When you want to start being more concerned about if that sleeplessness lasts five to seven days, and then you might be ok for a while, but then you might have a lot of sadness, depression and suicidal thoughts maybe," said Preble.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are some signs that you may be suffering from depression.
- Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day.
- Sleeping too much or not almost enough every day.
- Difficulty focusing, remembering things, or difficulty making decisions.
- Having thoughts about hurting yourself.
The VA offers depression screening on their website for anyone.
Depression can be mild, moderate or severe and two individuals situations can be drastically different. It's never a bad idea to reach out to your doctor if you have been experiencing any signs of depression. "You might get told you have some depression, well, what does that mean? We work with your provider to determine if medications are the best route or some therapy. We want to explore how long the symptoms have been bothering you," Preble said.
There are also options to seek help in-person in Lewis & Clark County.
"The Center for Mental health offers walk-in care, so you can come in and complete an application we can have somebody meet with you or set up an appointment for you, and lots of agencies that are open can do that as well." added Preble.
Here is a list of other resources available:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention- Montana Chapter
Center for Mental Health- apply for services or ways to get help locally
How to find help
Montana Warmline- experiencing distress or wondering about your feelings- Not a crisis line
National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-8255 or text text MT to 741741