Signs of Depression
Restlessness and irritability, thoughts of death or suicide, and feelings of hopelessness and pessimism are possible signs of depression. Keep in mind that having some of these signs does not mean that you are clinically depressed. However, if you experience at least five symptoms for two weeks or longer, you should see your healthcare provider or a qualified mental health professional for help.
If you have five or more depression signs and symptoms for two weeks or longer, you could have clinical depression and should see your doctor or a qualified mental health professional.
These possible signs can include:
- A persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
- Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, and being "slowed down"
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Restlessness and irritability
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
A Persistent Sad, Anxious, or "Empty" Mood
One of the most common signs of depression is a constant and overwhelming feeling of sadness. You may also just feel empty or apathetic. Anxiety often accompanies depression. It may be intense, as though one is in great danger. In the case of anxiety associated with depression, that state of tension may persist for no apparent reason.
Feelings of Hopelessness and Pessimism
When you are in a depression, you may not be able to see your way out. It may feel as if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You may begin to lose all hope for things improving, for life getting any better.
Feelings of Guilt, Worthlessness, and Helplessness
With this symptom, you may think that the depression is your own personal failing, that it's your fault that you aren't happier or more productive. The fact is that those feelings are direct signs of the illness.
Loss of Interest or Pleasure in Hobbies and Activities
You may lose interest in everything around you. You may not want to do anything or see anyone. Things that would bring you pleasure before are now just one more burden to deal with. Most people even lose interest in sex; others use it as an escape, like alcohol or drugs.
Decreased Energy, Fatigue, and Being "Slowed Down"
With this sign of depression, your thinking and reactions may be slower. Even your movements may become slower, or seem slower. This slowness is further complicated by fatigue -- or feeling overwhelmingly tired a lot, or even all, of the time.
Difficulty Concentrating, Remembering, or Making Decisions
Depression can affect your ability to make decisions, think clearly, perform complicated tasks, concentrate, and remember things. You may feel that you are unable to remember things that you did before, focus on your work, or make decisions.
Difficulty Sleeping, Early-Morning Awakening, or Oversleeping
Sleep disturbances are a common indication of depression. A "good night's sleep" becomes virtually impossible. Many people complain of waking up in the middle of the night with their mind racing, wondering how they are going to overcome all of the obstacles before them. Others do little other than sleep, but never feel rested. In both cases, the built-up fatigue can aggravate every other aspect of depression.
Appetite and/or Weight Changes
Depression affects the appetite in one way or another. Often, you just lose interest in eating because the food has no taste. When anxiety is high, you may not be able to eat. In some cases, however, people will overeat out of frustration or misery.
Restlessness and Irritability
You can never relax, and you never feel rested. It isn't surprising that you would feel angry, irritable, and never at peace. Men may manifest this irritability by lashing out at the people around them, having a volatile temper, not being able to sit still, and perhaps even feeling angry at themselves for not being able to pull out of it on their own.
Thoughts of Death or Suicide; Suicide Attempts
When you suffer from depression, thoughts of suicide are often common. If there is no relief over a long period of time, suicide can feel like the only way to end the pain.
Persistent Physical Symptoms
The stress, tension, and fatigue seen with depression can often manifest themselves as physical symptoms. People may experience, among other things:
- Stomach aches
- Constant headaches
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
It is always possible that these symptoms indicate another medical condition, so it is important that you consult a physician in either case. The symptoms are real and need to be treated.