Published March 10, 2012
Every one of us has a bad day here and there, but people with depression feel sad to the point that it interferes with their lives on a consistent basis. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is caused by psychological, biological and environmental factors that differ for each person. There are different kinds of depression, but they all have the same basic symptoms. Here are five ways to recognize whether you or a loved one has depression:
Uncontrollable negative thoughts
You may experience negative thoughts that seem like they are being played on a continuous loop in your head. You may feel helpless or hopeless and an intense self-loathing. Everything may seem discouraging. It is common for people with depression to hold in guilt over things that they have no control over. People with depression may think they are a failure and have let someone else down.
Loss of interest in hobbies that were once enjoyable
Your favorite activities no longer make you happy. You don’t want to see family or friends, so you withdraw from society and isolate yourself. People with depression often skip school, work or other obligations. You may feel an inexplicable emptiness inside. This could also mean a change in appetite. You may stop eating or start overeating, which could result in drastic weight loss or gain. You may have trouble sleeping or sleep an excessive amount. Also watch out for unhealthy drinking habits.
You may have trouble remembering details and making decisions. You can also experience a dip in your energy level. You may find yourself feeling irritable or restless.
Aches and pains
You may get unexplainable cramps, headaches or digestive problems. Your body may feel sore, or you may tense up all of the time. Feelings of perpetual exhaustion also go along with depression.
Take any talk of suicide or death seriously, whether you have suicidal thoughts yourself or hear someone else saying that things would be better if he or she were not around. Look for warning signs, like someone saying goodbye to their loved ones. Suicidal thoughts can also lead to reckless behavior like driving through red lights. Call or encourage your loved one to call a suicide helpline like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or the National Hopeline Network (1-800-784-2433).
There are many online quizzes and questionnaires to determine whether you have depression. Visit your doctor or a mental health profession, and he or she can put you on the road to recovery. Do you think you or a loved one is displaying depressive symptoms? Seek support. Take care and be kind to yourself. The good news is that many people with depression get better with treatment. This could mean antidepressants, counseling, psychotherapy or a combination of the three.