Key signs you may be suffering with depression
Feeling down or being in a bad mood sometimes is a normal part of everyday life. The idea that we should be happy all the time is probably the greatest myth we’re told as children! It couldn’t be further from the truth. Life can be stressful — we lose people we love, we have competing priorities, and we juggle increasing responsibilities — and it can cause us to feel a range of unpleasant emotions just as much as we experience pleasant ones. That, as they say, is life. But it is worth knowing some key signs of depression should you feel blue for a prolonged period of time. We want you to know that you are not alone and we are here to help you get the support you need.
Key facts about depression
According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is more common than we might think: an estimated 16.2 million people — nearly 7 percent of adults — in the US have suffered at least one major depressive episode. Depression is more common among females (8.5 percent) than males (4.8 percent). The age group suffering with the highest rates of depression was 18 to 25, and it was more common among adults reporting two or more races/ethnicities.
In the 12-to-17 age group, depression affects 3.1 million or 12.8 percent. Again, it is higher among females (19.4 percent) than males (6.4 percent).
Key signs of depression
The difference between feeling low — for instance, having low energy and wanting to hibernate — and depression is that depression interferes with your ability to perform day-to-day activities for a prolonged period of time.
Michelle London, PsyD at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, describes it well: “Depression is a cruel disease that can affect anyone. It is very easy, once the symptoms begin, for a person to slide down the black hole of depression where the symptoms spiral and feed off of each other, increasing severity.”
Here are some signs to watch out for:
If you are feeling depressed or suffer with other symptoms for longer than two weeks then it is time to seek professional help from your doctor.
If you are feeling tired all the time, or feel like you aren’t as physically capable as usual, this could also been a sign of depression.
Changes to sleeping patterns.
Similar to a loss of energy, you may also experience changes to your usual sleep. Are you struggling to get out of bed, going to sleep really early, and feeling like you can’t get enough sleep? This can be a symptom of depression.
Loss of pleasure.
You may notice that the things that normally cause you to experience joy lose their appeal — like socializing or having sex.
Neglecting physical care.
This may mean you aren’t showering as regularly, you aren’t brushing your teeth or combing your hair, or you are wearing unwashed clothes.
Changes in appetite.
Weight can fluctuate in people suffering with depression. This can manifest in either eating more than usual and craving high-carbohydrate foods, or in a loss of appetite and general lack of interest in food.
Feeling hopelessness or despair.
Sometimes it may feel that there is nothing to look forward to and you feel a sense of doom, or you feel dread in the pit of your stomach. Some people describe this as having a dark cloud over your head or slipping down a black hole that you can’t seem to get out of.
People with depression may experience sadness, tearfulness, anger, or guilt. They may also experience a lack of self-worth, believing that the depression is their fault in some way.
Depression can result in difficulty focusing and making decisions, or short-term memory loss. You may feel fuzzy-headed too — some people call this brain fog.
Considering death or self-harm in anyway is a serious sign of the need to get immediate medical attention. It’s crucial that any person at risk removes access to guns, medication, knives, or anything else that may cause harm. If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 800-273-8255.
If you experience any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, you may be suffering with depression and it is time to seek medical attention. A doctor may recommend medication or therapy, as well as some lifestyle changes. Please refer to our resources page for further help.