Depression and Indecision
Watching television commercials, you may think that depression occurs as often as seasonal allergies, but an important distinction exists between depression and the occasional blues. Depression is not brief or situational. Depression feels as though a dark cloud has descended on you, and it just won’t lift. Although indecision is one symptom of depression, being indecisive does not necessarily mean that you are depressed.
If you have recently ended a relationship, you might feel sad or despondent, but because those feelings were triggered by a specific event, you likely do not suffer from clinical depression. It’s natural to feel miserable or heartbroken for a time after a relationship ends. Other symptoms must be present before a diagnosis of clinical depression can be made.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, depression may be indicated if you experience five or more of the following symptoms for two or more weeks: inability to make decisions; loss of concentration; sadness most of the time; loss of interest in pleasurable activities that you previously enjoyed; a significant weight loss or weight gain; sleeping too much or too little; moving or talking more slowly than normal; loss of energy and libido; and thoughts of harming or killing yourself.
Depression is not the only cause of indecision. Certain personality traits contribute to indecision, particularly if you have commitment issues or lack self-esteem. People who lack self-esteem constantly second guess themselves and frequently ask others for their opinions. For instance, unable to decide what pair of shoes to buy, you might take a picture of the shoes on your cell-phone and send it to 10 friends, asking them for their opinions. In that case, you need external confirmation for your decisions. Women have a greater tendency to ask for the opinions of others when making decisions. Of course, that is not true in all cases.
Committing to a decision can be overwhelming for some people, even causing them to avoid the situation entirely. Known as avoidance, this trait is more typical of men rather than women. Some men believe that if they don’t think about a problem, it doesn’t exist. For instance, you may ask your boyfriend to attend your cousin’s wedding, an event where he would be meeting your extended family for the first time, and he says that he will let you know, but he never gets back to you. This is an example of avoidance.
If you suspect you suffer from depression, seek professional care from a licensed mental health professional. Indecision alone is not a reason to seek professional help.
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Laura Farrell West, MSW, LCSW, has been practicing as a psychotherapist for more than seven years. She maintains an active private practice, treating clients with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and relationship issues. West is a member of NEDA and the Association of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapists, and serves on the board of three nonprofit organizations in the Tampa Bay area.