According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 10 Americans experience depression at any given time. Ironically, so many who suffer from symptoms of depression, aren’t aware that they are depressed. Depression is a tricky mental health issue to recognize as symptoms often vary from person to person. Some people will want to sleep 12 hours a day and others will wrestle with insomnia. Many will feel very irritable with angry outbursts. On the other hand, others will find themselves very tearful and unable to stop crying. Many people hide their depression and will go to work, pay their bills and maintain a social life. However, their internal world will feel very destructive and often unbearable to manage.
In addition to signs of depression ranging within each person, symptoms of depression also vary from mild, moderate, to severe. Mild depression involves having heavy feelings of sadness that can go on for days and are noticeable enough to interfere with your usual activities. Moderate depression is severe enough to cause problems within your personal and professional life. Moderate depression is therefore often easier to diagnose than mild depression because the symptoms visibly show up on your daily life. Severe depression can last an average of six months or longer and requires medical treatment as soon as possible. Symptoms can can include suicidal thoughts or plans, delusions and or hallucinations.
It is important to note that depression is a serious mental health concern and very different from having a bad day or feeling off. While many will experience depression in response to a stressful life event, sometimes depression develops without any obvious cause. The World Health Organization considers depression to be a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major public health concern. “People routinely say that depression is the worst thing that’s happened to them”. I believe very much that the right help can save lives. Regardless of how depressed someone currently feels, there are resources available that can make a world of difference. I'm happy to connect anyone to a psychiatric professional, clinic or clinician who can help.
When we are feeling depressed, we can’t ignore the symptoms or simply will the challenging feelings away. Psychotherapy and in many cases psychopharmacology can provide the relief you need. For anyone who is having suicidal thoughts or if you suspect a loved one is suicidal, call 911 or 1-800-lifenet. If you are questioning if you are depressed, please read my top 5 warning signs of depression. Sending warm thoughts to everyone during this chilly season. Never give up hope or the belief in a better future.
Top 5 Warning Signs of Depression:
1. Loss of Interest: Anhedonia is one of the main symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD). It is the loss of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. Depression can act like a thief and rob you of pleasure by suppressing the chemicals that fuel your emotions. When you have a challenging time finding joy in activities, people or events that you once enjoyed, this a big warning sign of depression.
2. Changes in Weight: Dramatic shifts in weight- (weight loss or weight gain) can often be tied to depression. Psychologist Leslie Heinberg, PhD, who directs the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “We do know that depression has lots of symptoms that can worsen obesity - (cause) appetite disturbances, lack of energy, lack of motivation to do things.” Quite often those who are depressed lose their appetite or will to nourish themselves. Other times, depression will cause someone to crave foods with high sugar and/or fat content, as eating is often a relief or way to self-soothe. As we look at depression, the mind-body connection and our relationship with food is an important factor.
3. Fatigue or Lack of Energy: Its normal to feel tired or even exhausted from time to time. However, Gabriela Cora, MD, managing partner of the Florida Neuroscience Center and a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology shares, “if fatigue lingers and is accompanied by low mood and decreased motivation or interest, this lack of energy may be tied to early signs of depression.
4. Altered Sleep Patterns: Quite often those struggling from depression will either report insomnia or will be sleeping too much. 8 hours is the goal in terms of how much sleep we should aim for. If we are chronically sleeping over 8 hours or experiencing insomnia, your sleep patterns may be tied to depression. Having a sleep disorder does not in itself cause depression, but lack of sleep is often a symptom of depression.
5. Feelings of Hopelessness: It can be argued that having a hopeless outlook is the most common symptom of depression. When we feel hopeless we will believe that nothing will ever get better, that we are helpless to our circumstances. Robert Leahy, PhD author of Beat the Blues Before They Beat You, shares that the single most important issue for someone who is depressed to address is their feelings of hopelessness. Depression can often rob is of having accurate reality testing. However, staying open and focusing on what you can change will make all of the difference.
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Sending you peaceful thoughts and wishes for brighter days.