How do you decide if you or your loved one is depressed or simply feeling down? These days people use the term “ depression ” so commonly that it has lost its true meaning. As a major mental health disorder, depression is more than a bad day at work or going through a breakup. There are specific and lasting symptoms that serve as early warning signs.
Chronic Anxiety and Irritability
If you or a loved one have been feeling anxious, restless, tense, and irritable for two weeks or more without any emotionally uplifting moments, this chronic state of anxiety may be a telltale sign of a depressive episode.
Chronic anxiety may have accompanying physical discomforts such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, or trembling. While you feel this way, it is hard to focus or think clearly. It may feel like your mind is stuck in a dark cloud. Some people also have outbursts of anger.
Increased Fatigue and Sleep Problems
If you feel very tired and suffer from sleep problems for more than two weeks, it may be another warning sign of depression. As your body goes through emotional and mental distress, it can be physically draining. Depression and fatigue can become a vicious cycle, showing up in either loss of sleep or excessive sleeping.
Sometimes depression can even cause physical discomfort, such as joint pain, bloating, and backaches. These can worsen sleep problems for many people. Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, play a significant role in mood fluctuations and instability.
Loss of Interest and Concentration
Depression can take the pleasure out of things you used to love doing. For example, you may lose interest in activities that you once looked forward to, such as hobbies or going out with friends. You might start declining friends’ invitations. You might dread going to work, even if you loved this job before. Some people may also experience a decreased sex drive. You may want to stay isolated, which does not help your mood either.
Along with loss of interest is an increasing lack of concentration. For example, you could find it hard to focus on a task that used to be easy for you. Constant fatigue makes it hard to engage with any activity that requires a sustained period of focus. Even mustering the energy to get out of bed and do house chores becomes a challenge.
Poor Emotional Health
Emotions seem out of your control when you experience depression, whether sadness, anger or another. One moment you might find yourself seething with anger, the next you are sobbing uncontrollably, even though no external factors triggered the change. You are riding an emotional roller coaster and it is hard to predict what will come next. Depression may cause severe mood swings like these.
Depression among children and adolescents can be identified by poor emotional health and can be harder to diagnose as depression because it can be written off as typical child, adolescent, or teen behavior. Young people with depression may experience emotional symptoms such as anxiety, anger, and irritability.
A Looming Sense of Hopelessness
People who develop severe and chronic depression can have a looming sense of hopelessness as if every day will end with the most negative outcomes. Feelings of worthlessness may accompany this doomsday mentality. Some people experience this hopelessness in the wake of significant loss, trauma, or a major emergency in life. It can leave you feeling numb or empty.
These feelings, left unchecked, can lead to suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts can happen to anyone—young and old, male and female. You must acknowledge the enormous emotional pain behind these thoughts about hurting yourself. Depression alters brain chemicals, affecting your moods and thoughts. If you experience unbeatable feelings of hopelessness or have suicidal thoughts, reach out for help.
Diagnosing and Treating Depression
The above symptoms are warning signs that you or your loved one has a depressive disorder. It can interfere with your everyday life and even impact your will to live. Many people are not aware that there is more than one type of chronic depression. Mental health professionals can diagnose specific variations of depression, such as bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Usually, health professionals use the diagnostic classification of DSM-5 which includes signs and symptoms of a wide range of depressive disorders.
Treatment options include antidepressants, psychotherapies, and brain stimulation therapies. Each of these methods may take a bit of time to see results. Treatment may also take some trial and error as you and your healthcare provider determine the best methods and dosage for you.
Do you how to cope with symptoms related to depression so that it does not build up and negatively impact your health? Counseling or therapy may help you develop specific strategies to diagnose and treat depression. If you relate to any of the above warning signs for depression, seek professional help. Your doctor or therapist can help you decide on a method of treatment to deal with your depression. For some people, depressive disorders can lead to substance use disorder. At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have experienced mental health professionals who can coach you through recovering from addiction and managing your mental health challenges. Schedule an appointment with us today to discover how we can help you get better. Call us at 866-934-5276, and we would be happy to talk with you about short-term and long-term recovery plans. Depression is real, but it does not need to stay.