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Depression Symptoms And What To Look For
It's normal to be sad from to time to time, but if you feel unmotivated or hopeless, are experiencing sleep deprivation or changes in appetite, or are having recurrent thoughts of death, you may be developing some form of depression, or symptoms of it. If so, you are not alone; nearly 18 million American adults suffer from a depressive illness. Depression symptoms are not necessarily obvious, but there are some warning signs.
Depression can devastate all areas of your everyday life, including work, school, family relationships and friendships. You may experience a loss of interest in the activities you once enjoyed like going out to dinner, playing with your children or participating in extracurricular activities. When you are depressed, even basic daily activities seem bothersome or too hard. Depression treatment can be possible via professionals in the mental health field.
The physiological and psychological effects of depression are caused by the way the brain processes certain chemicals. Some types of depression, such as bipolar disorder, tend to run in families. However, having a family member with a severe form of depression does not necessarily mean you will develop it as well. On the other hand, depression can and does strike those in families with no previous history of it.
A variety of outside factors, including a major illness or loss of a loved one, difficult relationships or living situations, financial pressures, or job stress can trigger depression. Attitudinal proclivities such as low self esteem, chronic pessimism and anxiety also can contribute to depression. Depression can even result from poor diet, food allergies, insomnia, or lack of exercise.
Many people cannot accept that they may suffer from depression. Most try to shake off the depression symptoms and tend to not seek treatment because they are ashamed. Denial only makes depression worse.
Take one small step to be happy again: Seek treatment from a therapist before depression really hurts you and your family.
Common Depression Types
Major depression can dramatically disrupt your ability to work, eat, sleep,
study and maintain healthy relationships. People who are severally depressed
tend to not want to participate in the pleasurable activities they once
Dysthymia is a non-disabling, chronic depression that keeps one from functioning well or from feeling good. It has many of the same symptoms as major depression, but may not be as severe.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a depressive mood disorder that scientists have determined is related to seasonal variations of light and is most prevalent in the winter months. Those with SAD often benefit from increased exposure to artificial light or sunlight.
Bipolar Disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness and is not as common as other forms of depression. It is characterized by either dramatic or gradually cycling mood changes. Those with bipolar disorder experience severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). While in the depressed phase, one can have any or all of the symptoms of major depression. The manic phase affects judgment, rational thinking, and acceptable social behavior.
Postpartum Depression is thought to be triggered by hormonal shifts and/or lifestyle changes, and can occur at any time after giving birth. While some level of tiredness, trouble concentrating, and anxiety is to be expected after giving birth, postpartum depression lasts longer than two weeks and
But what if you've tied the knot and pre-marital counseling is no longer an option? If you are already married and either never received pre-marital counseling or feel that your marriage is still in need of professional guidance, then we encourage you to read the following information and ask yourself these questions:
Signs and symptoms of clinical depression
- Loss of energy and fatigue
- Change in sleep patterns
- Feeling of hopelessness and unworthiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Overwhelming feeling of sadness and grief
- Increased irritability and anger
- Withdrawal from family and friends
Help For Depression - Things You Can Do
Your first step should be to see your primary care physician for a depression screening test and to rule out other possible physical problems. Your doctor will ask you a series of questions designed to assess if you are clinically depressed. If it is determined that you do have clinical depression, your doctor will prescribe anti-depressant medication.
You also should ask your doctor for a referral or authorization to find and see a licensed therapist. According to recent studies, a combination of therapy and medication is the most effective way to combat depression.
Sometimes, you'll have to try two or three medications--and perhaps see more than one therapist--over a period of several months to find the combination that will work best for you. The important thing is that you keep trying.
Take Care of Yourself:
It's essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get regular exercise and sufficient sleep. Excessive consumption of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco all impact your brain's ability to work properly. It's also important to take care of your emotional and spiritual well-being. Learn to identify and properly express your feelings so that you don't become emotionally overwhelmed. Friends and family can provide a helpful support system.
Develop a Purpose:
Cultivate positive values and formulate a purpose in life that will guide you in making decisions and provide you with a sense of direction. Having attainable goals and knowing what steps to take to achieve them will enable you to see your life as having meaning.
Helpful resources:National Institute of Health: Depression
California Department of Mental Health
Partial Content Credit:
M.K.Doc Downing, Ph.D., MSW, LMFT