Top Ten Depression Warning Signs
The pages linked to this page will help you understand different kinds of depression, how it is treated and what you can do to help yourself. Often, the first step is knowing you are depressed. Many of the people who come to my office for treatment know something is wrong, but aren’t quite sure what it is. They may indicate they came to therapy as a result of a family member or spouse's suggestion. I've compiled a list below to help you figure out if you might be suffering from depression.
Depression Warning Signs #1
The number one sign that you are depressed or may be on the path to depression is a feeling of unhappiness and being unfulfilled (depressed mood).
That is not to say that you are depressed if you are unhappy at times. Unhappiness, sadness and other uncomfortable emotions are a part of healthy emotional life. However, if the feelings of unhappiness are pervasive and long lasting (two weeks and nearly every day ),you may meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.
Depression Warning Signs #2
A lack of joy or interest in activities that previous gave you pleasure.
Many of the clients I work with will report that they are concerned because the things that used to bring them happiness no longer do. Most commonly depressed people say they no longer want to be with friends, cook, exercise,or do whatever it is that used to bring them joy. Sometimes, especially in relationships, if a depressed person and their partner are unaware of this symptom, it can be misunderstood as falling out of love, or losing interest in their relationship. Usually though, depression is not personal.
Depression Warning Signs# 3
Having feelings of anger and irritability.
Many people experiencing depression will experience a loss of patience and an increase in irritability. This may be noticed more by the people around them, and again can be misunderstood and personalized by a loved one.
Depression Warning Signs #4
Disrupted sleep patterns.
Rarely does a depressed person come in to therapy without disrupted sleep. They may having trouble falling asleep, because they lay in bed stuck on thinking about negative and fearful things. Also, they may have early morning wakefulness or middle of the night wakefulness where they wake up have troubling thoughts and cannot fall back asleep.
Depression Warning Signs #5
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
For example, feeling guilty or responsible for other’s behaviors or things in the world or in the past that you have no control over.
People who are depressed have distorted thinking. In fact the whole premise of good therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, challenges this distorted thinking. Certain thinking errors have been isolated in depressed people. Although not obvious to the depressed person, others can easily see that the depressed person’s feelings of worthlessness and guilt are unjustified and inaccurate.
Depression Warning Signs # 6
Feeling overwhelmed by normal stressors in your life.
A woman I have worked with in the past, for example, who managed many people at work, a household and several young children, became completely undone by finding a mouse was living in her house. In fact this experience drove her to bed for three days. People who are depressed often find normal stress unbearable, and will say so and recognize that this is not the norm for them. In fact, that knowledge that they are feeling out of their normal selves( overwhelmed, angry, irritable) can cause them as much pain and stress as their depression.
Depression Warning Signs #7
Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
People report having trouble making decisions, being confused easily by problems or tasks and having difficulty doing things that require they concentrate. Things such as such as reading a book or even watching a movie can seem impossible!
Depression Warning Signs #8
Fatigue or loss of energy.
Feeling drained and exhausted and unable to get through your daily routine is also a sign of depression. People who are depressed don’t just experience it in their mind, but also their body. This is perhaps the most visibly debilitating. Depressed people are challenged just to make it through the day. Mustering up the courage to fight through this can be extremely difficult.
Depression Warning Signs #9
Pessimism and negative thoughts.
Depression is a self-perpetuating cycle. It is difficult to know which comes first, the thoughts or the depression. People who are depressed are clearly more likely to dwell and engage in thoughts about their unhappiness, hopelessness and guilt. They are more likely to focus on the negative and to dwell on the less attractive qualities of the world and the people in it. Again, this is a main point that focused treatment can radically alter.
Depression Warning Signs #10
Thoughts of suicide and death.
People who are depressed may consider suicide as a way to end their pain. They may also be much more likely to dwell on death itself, finding themselves thinking about others dying and other frightening thoughts. If you have these feelings, self help is not enough for you and you need to immediately seek treatment.
Depression symptoms are generally the same for all kinds of depression, but there are some differences that might be important to note for diagnostic purposes. Click on the pages below to learn about different forms of depression.
Dysthymia is a long-term low- grade depression that is not as immediately debilitating, but in the long run can seriously impact your life. Click here for more information about Dysthymia.
Situational depression is a depression that can be traced to a particularly stressful situation. Click here to find out more about situational depression.
Postpartum depression is a devastating kind of depression that affects new mothers after the birth of their child. Click here for more information on postpartum depression.
Bipolar depression is a depression that includes mania, and requires a different medication and treatment approach than unipolar depression. Cyclothymia is a less severe form of bipolar depression.
Wondering how to survive depression? Click here for help.