It can be hard to tell if you’re suffering from depression or anxiety. The symptoms can get lost in translation; people don’t realize what they’re feeling may actually be anxiety or depression.

It can be hard to tell why you don’t feel the same; maybe you’re feeling weaker because of age or might be having mood changes because of the weather. “There’s a tendency to dismiss it as, ‘Well, of course, I’m worried, I have heart disease,’ or, ‘Of course I’m sad, I’m not as relevant as I once was,'” Dr. Michael Craig Miller, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School recently told Harvard Health Online.

It’s important that if you’re showing any of the signs of anxiety or depression you make a trip to your doctor. There’s no need to have to live life the way that you’re feeling.

What to look for

Sometimes it takes a good hard look at yourself to realize that things haven’t been normal with the way you’re feeling.

Have you lost interest in the things that you once loved doing? Do you lack enthusiasm? If you feel empty and loss of enjoyment for life, you could be lacking apathy. These are more textbook symptoms that are associated with depression. Another classic symptom is helplessness or hopelessness; it’s when you feel that no one, including yourself, can help change your life. Have you noticed a change in your habits? You could be sleeping far more or less. You might also be engaging in riskier behaviour. Do you feel tired all of the time? Being exhausted at the end of the day is normal, however, it’s not to be all day. There can be other medical reasons for this, but it can also be due to depression or anxiety.

“People who are depressed and anxious have difficulty making decisions because they worry whatever they do will be wrong,” says Dr. Miller. Or you may have trouble concentrating or paying attention to others. Another symptom to look out for is mood swings; you might be getting irritated easily or are being incredibly self-critical.

“Are you anticipating every possible problem and focusing on it rather than looking at the lake or sky or enjoying being with your grandchild?” Dr. Miller asks. Unending worry could be due to an anxiety disorder.

“If you enjoy solitude because you like the time to read or meditate, that’s fine. But that’s different from staying home because it takes too much energy to interact with others. That’s a sign of depression,” says Dr. Miller.

What to do if you have symptoms

You might not be diagnosed with depression or anxiety because you’re only suffering one of the symptoms, but if it’s impacting your way of life it might be a good idea to schedule a chat with your doctor. “If you’re too caught up in one feeling or another, having less pleasure in life or having trouble doing what you need to do, then certainly get help,” says Dr. Miller.

One of the best ways to start the process is to talk to your family or friends. “Talk to people who might be understanding, compassionate, and helpful,” Dr. Miller says. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, your doctor is the next best option.

What can help?

There are a handful of ways to treat depression and anxiety including medications and therapy. There are different forms of depression and anxiety – there is no cookie cutter way of dealing with it. Tthe best thing you can do is talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

If you’re not into the idea of taking pills, exercise is a great alternative. “Increased blood flow to the brain seems to make nerves healthier. They plump up and make firmer connections,” Dr. Miller explains. You don’t have to become an Olympic deadlift champion, try going for a walk around the block.

Another great way is to not pull away from your social life; by spending time and staying connected socially can help reduce your stress.  They’re also associated with improved immune system function and a longer life. All of this can lead to a lower level of anxiety and depression, a better well-being.

“It’s useful to find a way to manage it better so you can live your life fully and experience being alive,” says Dr. Miller. “You want to feel like every day that you wake up is a good day.”