This article presents the top 12 warning signs and symptoms of Major Depression Episode. Depression caught in the earliest presenting stages (signs & symptoms) has the best response to treatment (psychotherapy and/or prescriptions) and with treatment the fastest rate of recovery. There is no time to waste. Therefore, it is important to to see a Doctor (i.e. Psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist) who specialize in mental illness and mental health for an evaluation.
Depression is treatable. Depression is also preventable. Do not postpone or put off seeking assessment and treatment due to fear of stigma or naively thinking that the depression will just go away on its own. Your life matters. Your mental health affects your physical health, brain health, relationships, quality of life.
12 Warning Signs of Depression
How do you know when feeling down, sad, blue, or in the dumps has crossed over into full-blown depression? Here are the 12 basic warning signs and symptoms of depression that warrant and evaluation and treatment. The best advice is to seek a specialist who is licensed mental health doctor: Psychiatrist and Clinical Psychologist.
1. and 2: Hall Mark Criterions of Depression: When it’s more than just the temporary sadness or lack of interest.
If you’re feeling sad or hopeless for at least 2-weeks and you find it difficult doing your usual routine, or no longer want to engage in previously enjoyable activities, then it is time to pay attention. This is the hallmark criterion of clinical depression. Even with either of these 2 hallmark signs, it can be difficult for a depressed individual to know for sure because almost all of the symptoms (see below) of depression separately may be experienced by everyone at one time or another.
If you have been dealing with four or more of the following symptoms every day for two weeks, and they impair or interfere with the way you usually function (e.g. decreased productivity, decrease motivation, being a responsible parent, or seeing friends). Then, it is very important to visit with a qualified mental health doctor: a Psychiatrist and a Clinical Psychologist .
3. Changes in Appetite or Eating
Depression can leave you withdrawn and checked out, and that can mean loss of appetite. If your brain is preoccupied with negative thoughts, you may forget to eat. You also may feel it is too much effort to cook or prepare meals. Conversely, sometimes depression makes you hungry and drives you to overeat.— pessimism about the future, and low self-esteem that accompany depression—may compel you to try to soothe your feelings with food binges.
4. Changes in Sleep Quality and Quantity
If there is a change in the quality of your sleep or if you’re sleeping too much or too little. Some people with depression find themselves fatigued even though they had enough sleep. It is also common that sleeping more is an escape for people with depression. Others with depression experience interrupted sleep or even insomnia—they’re engaged in obsessive thoughts or ruminations “binge thinking”. Keep in mind not only can sleep changes be a tipoff to the depression, but also make it worse. When you’re not getting the proper amount of sleep, your brain’s internal clock gets out of sync, and you’re even more tired and unfocused…and less able to cope.
5. Agitation or Irritability or on Edge
It’s a sneaky sign few people recognize: depression can show up as heightened irritability. You might feel cranky and grumpy; little things that normally wouldn’t bother you set you off and leave you snapping at family, friends and coworkers. Part of the agitation may be the way depression exacerbates normal hormonal swings. But it could also be triggered by the weight of so many heavy emotions. When people are in physical pain, they often get angry and irritated easily, and it’s the same with psychological / emotional pain—you don’t feel good or like your usual self, and that saps your patience and puts you more on edge.
6. Loss of Concentration or Focus or Memory
Feel like your mind is in a brain fog, or resembles an out-of-focus photo. Problems concentrating or losing your focus. Forgetting work deadlines, leaving the stove on, or when to pick up your kids from a playdate? Depression can make a dent in the way you weigh choices and make decisions? That’s your brain on depression. Being preoccupied with thoughts of sadness and emptiness can plunge you into a brain fog that affects your job, memory, and decision-making skills. In turn, that unfocused thinking can lead you to make poor choices or take on unhealthy, risky behavior.
7. You Don’t Enjoy the Things That Once Made You Happy (i.e. anhendonia)
You used meet up with your friends or a group of coworkers, but for the last few weeks, you’ve been skipping out or making excuses. Or you always looked forward to your nightly run, but these days, you can’t muster the motivation or the interest. Not taking part in things you once enjoyed because they no longer give you pleasure is a telltale sign of depression. It is called anhedonia. A person who is simply sad might skip a few outings, but then get back in the swing of things. However, depression makes you apathetic about activities and hobbies that once gave you joy, and that makes you isolate yourself. It sets up that vicious cycle: depression robs you of your ability to derive pleasure from experiences, so you stop doing the very things that could brighten your mood.
8. You Feel Down on Yourself and Worthless~ Negative Binge Thinking
If you’re constantly putting yourself down, or you feel worthless or inconsequential. Binge thinking repetitive thoughts such as, ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I don’t matter’ are dangerous because they can fuel self-harming behavior. When you think this way, you tend to find ways to verify the negativity, and that in turn makes you more depressed and more at risk. Extreme guilt for things you aren’t solely responsible for—for example, a relationship loss or breakup or sudden job loss—also bashes your self-esteem and is a tip-off to depression.
9. You’re Preoccupied with Thoughts of Death
Persistent thoughts about ending your life, or wishing you would go to sleep and not wake up, or wondering how friends and family would feel if you died, thinking about different ways to carry out the act, and even general thoughts about death are all strong indicators that it’s time to reach out for mental health doctor for help. These thoughts of suicide pose such a direct threat to your life, it’s important to seek help immediately if you experience them, even if you don’t recognize any other symptoms of depression in yourself.
10. You’re panicky and anxious
Overwhelming feelings of fear are usually thought to signify an anxiety disorder. And while that’s often true, they can also be a clue to depression. Anxious feelings often coincide with depression, and some depressed people have panic attacks.
Anxiety is more than just the normal apprehension most of us feel when we’re challenged; it’s a constant feeling of panic and obsessive thoughts that often show up in physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, excessive perspiration, and sleep problems.
The tricky thing is, even though anxiety can signal depression, it’s possible that a person with depression also has an anxiety disorder as well. If you feel overwhelming anxiety, consider it another crucial reason to seek help from your doctor.
11. Warning Sign of Depression: Your energy level is depleted
Depression-related lethargy or fatigue may be simply the consequence of not eating enough or sleeping too much. But it’s also the result of having a black cloud of sadness or hopelessness over you all the time. Dealing with chronic emotional pain sucks your vitality or energy. Everything or almost everything feels fatiguing, even routine tasks are hard, not to mention work and family responsibilities. You feel overwhelmed by day to day life; even getting out of bed and taking a shower becomes exhausting. When you’re always tired and that fatigue impairs your life, it’s time to seek help.
12. Warning Sign of Depression: You have unexplained physical aches and pains
Emotional pain from depression that you aren’t getting help for can be channeled throughout your body and show up as physical ailments, like headaches, stomach problems, neck and back pain, even nausea. I see this with many of my patients; they’re holding so much sadness and distress inside, these feelings end up playing out in other ways. Not every cramp or twinge is a symptom of depression, of course. But if you’re suffering from a chronic ailment you can’t attribute to another cause that isn’t clearing up on its own, see a physician to get it checked out, but also consider it a possible sign of depression too.
I know it may seem overwhelming to reach out for help, particularly when depression feels so dark and heavy.
Your existence matters whether you believe it or not. There is no one else like you, not now, before, or after.
Your mental health, your physical health, your quality of life depends upon you making that call or appointment. I hope you will reach out. You can do this.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States and world wide according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Depression is treatable and the sooner you seek treatment the higher chances of faster recovery and getting back to yourself again.
Silence isn’t strength. I have presented the 12 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Depression. Seek help for Depression. AND Don’t keep suicidal thoughts to yourself.
In hope, Dr. Shawna Freshwater
Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist.