These sad, hopeless and exhausted feelings you’re experiencing. Are they signs of depression or just “the blues” and this time the down feelings are lasting longer than usual?
When you understand the symptoms of depression, you can tell whether you’re having a normal down time or if it’s time to see a health professional about treatment of depression.
By taking the time to understand the symptoms of depression and know how it’s affecting you, you can get out of the dumps faster and get back to the life you want to be living.
Understanding the symptoms of depression is the first step
you need to take to overcome this debilitating problem
that affects almost everybody sooner or later.
First, you need to know that life’s challenges are enough to sometimes make you sad and disappointed. Those feelings alone aren’t considered depression. Full blown depression is much more than that.
When symptoms of depression overwhelm your life so that you can’t work, eat, sleep and barely function through each day, depression may be the reason for this relentless onslaught.
Depression symptoms (“red flags”)
Some symptoms that may be a red flag for CLINICAL depression include:
· Thoughts that life is not worth living which turn into thoughts of suicide to end it all.
· Feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness that bring on guilt and sadness.
· Lack of concentration for even the most basic of tasks.
· Sleep disturbance: insomnia that brings on fatigue, or sleeping too much.
· Constant fatigue.
· Irritability with others or extreme anger.
· Loss of appetite or binge eating that leads to weight gain or loss.
· Physical problems such as headaches, stomach aches or other chronic pain problems.
Depression can affect young and old, men and women, successful people and those who have lost almost everything. Symptoms sometimes appear different in men than in women and also different in teenagers and even children. Seniors often have a problem with depression after they’ve lost a spouse or had a major life change, such as moving into a nursing home.
Understanding the symptoms of depression
MILD DEPRESSION: Various types of depression can cause varied symptoms. For example, a mild depression could come in the form of feeling slightly depressed and it may go away quickly and your normal mood may return, but mild depression can return again and sometimes last for years. Often, mild depression can go undetected and cause problems in your lifestyle.
MAJOR DEPRESSION: Also called clinical depression, this is usually accompanied by a complete inability to find any pleasure in life. If a bout with major symptoms of depression is left untreated, it may last for months, so if you think you’re having symptoms that surpass the normal “blues,” seek help immediately.
How to recognize depression signs
Depression signs are sometimes not easy to recognize in yourself or loved ones.
Some people have the knack to mask depression signs and fool everyone, including yourself. It may seem that you or a loved one are simply working through problems of stress, emotions and other life’s challenges, but eventually the strain of keeping up may become overwhelming and deeper problems may occur.
If you or a loved one experiences one or more of the following depression signs, seeking help is recommended to get a medical and mental evaluation and find out what type of depression is involved and the best way to treat it. Some depression signs are:
· Sadness or anger that just won’t go away. If you, a friend or family member seems to carry a cloud of sadness wherever they go or no matter what they’re doing, consider it a sign of depression. Expressing anger for no reason over a prolonged period of time is also a sign that the person may be experiencing some form of depression.
· Missing work or classes on a regular basis. A person who just can’t seem to pull themselves out of bed or get it together enough to show up at a job or attend classes at school may be depressed. Everyone feels lethargic sometimes, especially during stressful situations or burning the candle at both ends, but if it becomes a problem in how the person functions, there could be a problem.
· Dropping out of life. If you or someone you care about doesn’t want to do the things you once loved to do, it could be a depression sign. A teenager or child might be going through depression if he or she shows a lack of friends or disinterest in doing things she once enjoyed.
· Alcohol or drug use. Some prescription drugs can cause depression, especially in older adults. Excessive use of alcohol or illicit drugs can also be considered a symptom and cause of depression and should be taken seriously if you notice this type of behavior in yourself or a loved one.
· Mentioning death or suicide. Suddenly getting rid of belongings and constantly bringing up cryptic conversations that deal with death and/or suicide should be a red alert as a serious depression sign. The person expressing these thoughts or deeds should seek help immediately.
When you begin to suspect that you or someone you love is troubled with depression, take some time to evaluate the depression signs and seek help from a family member or friend close to the situation. It may just be a passing phase, but each sign should be taken seriously. Doctors are usually able to quickly diagnose depression and help is readily available either in the form of medications or mental help.
The Symptoms of Major Depression
You may be suffering from major depression if some of the many symptoms last for at least two weeks. Some of these symptoms include thoughts of death or suicide, sleeping too much (or not enough), lethargy, difficulty concentrating, appetite fluctuations and withdrawal from life. You may have feelings of extreme anger, become discouraged, guilty or even delusional.
Antidepressants are often used to fight symptoms of major depression, but more often than not, the medication should be used in conjunction with psychotherapy sessions rather than alone.
WARNING: Keep in mind that antidepressants used to treat young adults sometimes trigger suicidal thoughts and behavior, so they should be used with extreme caution and under the supervision of a health care provider.
If psychotic symptoms are part of your bout with major depression, lithium and thyroid supplements might be prescribed to further promote the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. If symptoms of major depression, especially thoughts of suicide, aren’t relieved by any of these methods, a physician might suggest ECT (ElectroConvulsive Therapy).
Doctors may also recommend a less harsh form of treatment than ECT, called TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation). This method alters brain function, but with fewer side effects than ECT. Light therapy has also been used effectively to combat symptoms of major depression. Winter months that offer a small amount of sunlight are especially difficult for major depression patients, and light therapy can help them regain normal sleeping habits. This can lessen that particular symptom of major depression.
Benefits of a healthy lifestyle for sufferers of depression
Sufferers of major depression symptoms should keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle also helps them feel better and improves their thought processes. Alcohol and drugs should be avoided as should fatty foods. Eating healthy, balanced meals and exercising on a daily basis can also go a long way in relieving symptoms of major depression.
Alternative methods of treating symptoms of major depression include herbal remedies, acupuncture and meditation techniques. Be sure and tell your physician if you’re using any type of natural or alternative methods for treating your major depression as some of these methods might have harmful side effects if used with prescription antidepressants.
No one knows exactly what causes major depression, but one theory is that chemical imbalances in the brain could trigger symptoms. Hereditary, traumatic or sad events in one’s life could also be causes of major depression.
The good news is that major depression can usually be treated with a good outcome. There’s no reason to suffer from these recurring episodes, so research your options and get some relief.
“So do I have depression or not?”
You can test your symptoms with an online depression test.
Taking an online depression test can’t take the place of a mental and medical evaluation from your health care provider, but it can help you recognize symptoms of depression and know what criteria separates clinical depression from a bout with anxiety or a temporary mood swing. After you take a depression test, you’ll get some facts about depression that you may not have known about.
An online depression test usually asks a certain group of questions and then evaluates your answers. One depression screening test consists of 18 questions, compiled by an M.D., which lets you print the test or take it online. Printing the test could be an added benefit to take to your health care provider and help him make a diagnosis.
You can take a depression test once a week for a month or so to determine if your symptoms have changed. This type of tracking can also help your doctor make a diagnosis. The online tests usually present a symptom and have you check the level of severity you’re feeling. Evaluation statements such as “I do things slowly,” can be answered “Not at all,” “Just a little,” or “Somewhat” and will be calculated with the other statements to give you an idea of whether or not depression is causing problems in your life.
Another statement, “The pleasure and joy has gone out of my life,” can be answered with, “Not at all,” “Just a little,” “Somewhat,” “Moderately,” “Quite a lot,” or “Very much,” giving you a wider berth of selections as to how you’re feeling in this moment in time. After you’ve taken one or more online depression tests, you’ll begin to see a pattern form that can be extremely helpful in determining your level of depression or if you’re simply responding to a temporary situation.
At the end of the test, you’ll see a button or other icon that lets you click to “Score My Questionnaire,” and you’ll receive the results of your depression test. If the test indicates that you may have a problem with depression, be sure and take the results to your health care provider and use it to open a dialogue about what can be done to further evaluate or treat your type of depression.
Even if the depression test doesn’t indicate signs of depression, you may want to see your doctor, especially if you have suicidal thoughts or if your feelings are keeping you from living your normal lifestyle. These online depression tests aren’t meant to be clinical evaluations of a medical condition, but only to be used as a tool to further diagnose your condition.
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL: Taking an online depression test is completely anonymous and confidential and is usually compiled by a major medical institution such as the Mayo Clinic or from various health care providers. You can research the various online depression tests and decide which one you feel the most comfortable with.
TO RECAP SOME OF THE MAIN POINTS:
The top 5 depression symptoms
The top five symptoms for depression could all be experienced in a short time span such as a couple of weeks or over a longer period of time. Everyone has an episode of depression sooner or later, but you should pay attention to these symptoms if they’re permeating your life in a way that interferes with your family, your work or relationships with others.
Here are some depression symptoms that you should be aware of:
- 1. Thoughts of Suicide.
These heartbreaking thoughts constitute the number one symptom of depression and you should take immediate action to see a doctor or psychologist.
- 2. Lack of Interest or Pleasure.
When depression sets in, some people lose all interest in work or activities that they used to take pleasure in.
- 3. Fatigue.
It’s normal to experience tired or “down” days. It becomes a major symptom of depression when it becomes difficult for you to get out of bed in the morning or perform tasks that support your lifestyle.
- 4. Sleeping Too Much or Not Enough.
Being sleepy all the time may indicate that you’re depressed. Insomnia could also be a symptom. Not getting enough sleep could interfere with your job and your lifestyle.
- 5. Feelings of Hopelessness.
If you think that nothing will ever improve and that you’re stuck in the train wreck that has become your life, you may be depressed.
Keep in mind that any of these symptoms of depression could also be linked with a tragedy in your life such as the death or long illness of a loved one or excess use of alcohol or drug abuse, either with subscription drugs or illegal drugs.
CRYING: Depression symptoms may also include crying frequently or feeling overwhelming bouts of emptiness or crying. If you have children or loved ones who live with or are close to you, they may become irritable or angry.
WEIGHT GAIN / LOSS: Weight gain or loss may also accompany feelings of depression. Any significant loss or gain of 5% or more per month could indicate a bout of depression. Depression may also render you unable to make decisions and you may become agitated and impatient with yourself about your current state of mind.
Depression may become a “catch-22” if it makes you feel guilty or incompetent. You may begin to procrastinate about important matters that you need to take care of right away, but feel that you just don’t have the energy to complete.
Hope you’re finding this series informative. We want you to know that there is HELP for depression. The main course of action is to see your health care provider or counselor right away if these depression symptoms are becoming worse or are interfering with your life.
And here is part 6 of this series: What Are Some Different Treatment Options For Cases of Depression?
DEPRESSION: Need to learn more? Discussing causes, symptoms & treatments for the 6 types. Tips for managing. Natural treatments, too!
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