How do you know if you or someone you love has depression? Depression can be hard to diagnose, but there are some clear warning signs that will help you distinguish it from other illnesses and conditions. These 10 symptoms of depression include the most common ones I’ve seen in my practice over the years, including sadness, lack of energy, and feelings of hopelessness that last more than two weeks. If you or someone you love experiences any of these signs of depression, it’s important to see your doctor and seek treatment as soon as possible.
1) Disinterest in Life
Do you find yourself spending more time alone or isolating yourself from others? This symptom may be a sign that you’re depressed. A feeling of isolation is one of the first and most noticeable signs that you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder. Research shows that severe anxiety disorders have higher rates than any other mental illness in patients being admitted to emergency rooms, presumably because they are so overwhelmed by their anxiety and panic attacks that they seek help.
2) Sleep Problems
Depressed people often find that they can’t sleep or they wake up feeling tired and worn out. Sleep disturbances are one of the first signs that your mental health might be suffering, so if you feel like you’re having trouble sleeping on a regular basis, it’s definitely worth looking into.
Many people do not recognize that anxiety is a serious symptom of depression. You can experience anxiety in many different ways, including pounding heart and accelerated breathing. When you feel anxious, it’s important to understand that you are feeling your depression much more acutely than usual, and should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your options for treatment. Common treatment options include talk therapy, medication and other prescription drugs. All will significantly help reduce your anxiety so that you may better deal with your depressive symptoms.
People with clinical depression may notice they’re feeling grouchy or moody, or that their temper gets shorter. Depression can also lead to anxiety, agitation, and restlessness. You might feel like you’re constantly on edge. Sometimes these feelings will come in waves; other times you might feel irritable all day long.
5) Poor Concentration
Everyone experiences episodes of difficulty concentrating from time to time, but if you’re experiencing low energy and a lack of motivation for more than two weeks, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing clinical depression. The good news is that learning how to manage your symptoms can help boost your mood and increase your ability to concentrate again. Start by getting enough sleep (7-8 hours per night) so that you can feel refreshed in the morning and when you wake up in between meetings throughout your day. Exercise is also an important part of keeping a healthy body – exercise stimulates serotonin production which enhances mood, focus, cognition, and energy levels.
6) Appetite Changes
Depression and appetite changes go hand in hand. While we’re not sure what causes some people to eat more when they’re depressed and others to have no appetite at all, there are a few things you can do to manage these cravings. One is to keep yourself busy—we know it sounds counterintuitive, but while you’re running around doing chores or just getting your errands done, you won’t have time to think about food.
7) Loss of Interest in Activities
When someone is depressed, they might stop doing activities that used to make them happy. This includes hobbies, sports, and other things they enjoyed. They may also give up on schoolwork or work responsibilities. It’s not always easy to recognize when someone is depressed, because those feelings can be masked by alcohol or drug use. But if you think you or a loved one might be experiencing these feelings for more than two weeks in a row, it’s time to take action before things get worse.
8) Suicidal Thoughts
If you have thoughts about harming yourself, especially if there is a specific plan, it’s important to seek professional help immediately. Many people feel suicidal at times in their lives but may not meet the full criteria for a diagnosis. Asking for help can be daunting, but it could also save your life. According to the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention in 2020, an estimated 12.2 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.2 million planned a suicide attempt, and 1.2 million attempted suicide. Suicide affects all ages.
9) Physical Symptoms
Depression doesn’t just impact your mood, it impacts your body as well. When you feel down, lethargic, and fatigued, it can affect other areas of your physical health like heart rate and blood pressure. In fact, here are 10 ways that you might be able to recognize that you or someone else is suffering from depression by looking at their physical signs.
10) Depression Treatment Outcomes
As a rule, antidepressants are prescribed as a short-term solution. If you think you might have depression, consult your doctor and make sure to discuss how long you should take an antidepressant. Some medications can be stopped after just one month—with no more than six months at a time—while others can be taken for years to keep symptoms from returning. With treatment outcomes like these, it’s clear that antidepressants work best in conjunction with therapy and other methods of self-care.