Depression is a misunderstood mental disorder that can be readily treated with both medications and psychotherapy. Sometimes you may think you have clinical depression but aren’t really sure what sets it apart from someone who’s just feeling blue sometimes.
1. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Anxiety is much more than just the normal apprehension most of us feel when we're challenged; it is a constant feeling of panic and obsessive thoughts that often show up in physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, excessive perspiration, and sleep problems. If you’re feeling overwhelming anxiety, consider it another crucial reason to seek help from your doctor.
2. You're dealing with unexplained aches and pains
Many people have constant physical complaints that do not appear to be symptoms of a medical condition. Not every cramp or twinge may be a symptom of depression, of course. But if you're suffering from a chronic ailment you can't attribute to another cause that isn't clearing up on its own, see a doctor get it checked out, it is also a possible sign of depression.
3. You feel down on yourself and worthless
If you're persistently putting yourself down, or you feel worthless or inconsequential, something is up. When you think this way, you tend to find ways to verify the negativity, and that, in turn, makes you more depressed and more at risk. Extreme guilt for things you aren't simply responsible for, a bad breakup or sudden job loss-also bashes your self-esteem and is a tip-off to depression.
4. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed
You used to be happy with your favorite group of coworkers, but for the last month, you've been ducking out. Or you always looked forward to your nightly run, but these weeks, you can't muster the interest. It sets up that vicious cycle: depression robs you of your ability to derive pleasure from experiences, so you stop doing the very things that could brighten your mood.
5. Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”
Depression-related lethargy could also be simply the consequence of not eating enough or sleeping too much. But it is also the result of having a black cloud of sadness or hopelessness over you all the time. Dealing with emotional pain is an energy suck, and it makes you too dragged and tired to tackle routine tasks, not to mention work and family responsibilities. When you're always tired and that fatigue impairs your life, it is time to seek help.
6. Small things irritate you
It's a sneaky sign many people recognize: depression can show up as heightened irritability. You might feel grumpy; little things that normally wouldn't register set you off and leave you snapping at friends and coworkers. Part of the prickliness may be the way depression exacerbates normal hormonal swings. But it may also be triggered by the weight of so many heavy emotions.
7. You can't concentrate or focus
Forgetting work deadlines or when to pick up your kids from a play date? That's your brain on depression. Being occupied with thoughts of sadness and emptiness can plunge you into a head fog that affects your job, memory, and decision-making skills. In turn, unfocused thinking can lead you to make poor choices or take on unhealthy, risky behavior.
8. Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Some people with depression find themselves staying under the covers more than usual . Others with depression experience restless or interrupted sleep or even insomnia-they're too wired by obsessive thoughts or ruminations to wind down and score the seven to eight hours per night most adults need.
9. You're eating more or less than usual
Depression leaves you introverted and checked out, and that can manifest as a loss of appetite. On the other hand, sometimes the disease kicks within the opposite effect, making you hungry and driving you to overeat.
10. Thoughts of death or suicide or actual suicide attempts
Constant thoughts about ending your life, wondering how friends and family would feel if you went and did it, pondering different ways to carry out the act, and even general thoughts about death are all strong indicators that it's time to reach out for professional help. Because these thoughts pose such a direct threat to your life, it's important to seek help if you experience them daily or almost every day for two weeks, even if these are only symptoms you recognize in yourself.