Signs that you may have depression can vary as widely as the root causes of depression itself. Race and gender may play a role, age and health may play a role as well as many other things that we deal with in our daily lives. Because anyone can develop depression here it is important to know the sign, here are 15 signs you may be experiencing depression.
1. Feelings of Unexplained Sadness
It's healthy to feel sadness when there's a reason, but grief comes in waves. Depression digs deep and is constant, throttling your self-esteem. It creates sadness that does not ease and is not intermixed with pleasant memories. This characteristic makes doctors and researchers think that a specific brain chemical, serotonin, is the key to this devastating mood disorder. Doctors consider this free-floating sadness one of the signs you may have depression if it occurs daily and lasts for two weeks.
2. Excessive Ruminating
You've heard of rumination in cattle, but this slow 're-chewing' of insignificant failures is one of the noticeable signs you may have depression. Depressed people often let past events or failures haunt their thoughts, even though these moments are of little or no consequence. Some brooding is normal as it helps you plan or avoid repeating unpleasant experiences. However, it's wise to seek help if contemplating past events interferes with your relationships, saps energy from other activities, or intensifies.
3. Loss of Interest
Have you stopped enjoying your hobbies, friends or activities? If you cannot cite age, location or financial encumbrances as the reason, you may be depressed. Depression robs you of pleasure by suppressing the chemicals that fuel your emotions. The condition, named anhedonia, occurs in varying degrees with depression, but scientists have found that anhedonia may result from the inability to maintain good feelings while depressed. As a result, you may find yourself feeling increasingly lonely as you become reclusive and solitary in every day life.
4. Unplanned Weight Changes
People often picture the stereotypical obese individual who eats to deal with his or her negative feelings. Not surprisingly, changes in brain chemistry change your appetite and can lead to unexpected weight loss. Depressed individuals have been known to gain or lose 5 percent of their total body weight in 30 days or less. Some individuals control their weight by substituting fat-free and low-calorie snacks for slices of pies and cakes.
5. Slowing Down
Someone may ask why you're walking so slowly, or they may interrupt you to say they need to hurry along. If this happens several times a week, you may be depressed. Depressed bodies move slower and your normal speech speed slows down. Slowing is one of the signs you may have depression that can significantly impact others, which may lead to earlier treatment. As is true with other symptoms, not all depressed people manifest slowing.
6. Excessive Worry
Of all the signs that you may have depression, excessive worry or anxious thoughts can seem the most confusing. Some worry is normal, but worry that lasts several hours every day can be a problem. Depression generates an obsessive need to have control in some individuals. The constant worry keeps their flight-or-fight responses active, elevating blood pressure and cortisol and causing weight gain. The need to control can make family life impossible, ending many marriages.
7. Feelings of Guilt
Calling yourself a failure, believing that you've disappointed or failed your family, and feeling bad about yourself are all signs that you might be depressed. Your problem-solving skills malfunction because key chemicals are not available and your capacity to reason is impaired. In some cases, guilt is fueled by mistaken beliefs about yourself that others have taught you. Depression diminishes your ability to separate fact from belief, especially when it reinforces depression's emotional pain.
For some people, depression triggers extremes in daily behaviors. Going to bed becomes dream-stage roulette. You may be able to quickly fall asleep or you might not. You may oversleep, but you might not sleep at all. Depression's influence over brain chemistry seems to switch into overdrive, rendering sleep cycles unpredictable. Doctors can prescribe medications to ease sleep disturbances, but some people find natural remedies or alternative methods to re-establish a healthy sleep cycle.
You may notice “brain fog”. That's because the chemical changes depression brings disrupt your brain's chemistry. The first sign you may have depression could be trouble with grades. Your boss or supervisor may mention that your work's quality is slipping. You may suddenly find that you cannot contribute during meetings, you're having a hard time meeting deadlines, or you may find that your creativity has disappeared. These are all signs that you might have depression.
According to the National Institutes for Health, unexplained fatigue is one of the most common symptoms cited when patients seek help. This fatigue is profound, impacting concentration, physical health and emotional resilience. You may sleep but wake tired, and you might be bored but lack the will or energy for activity. Science has found that fatigue and depression feed each other. Unfortunately, many of the medications that doctors prescribe for depression cause fatigue as a side effect.
11. Substance Abuse
Depressed individuals seeking relief from emotional pain often turn to familiar behaviors that provided relief in the past. However, depression may raise alcohol and drug use to dangerous levels as the depressed person finds previous consumption levels ineffective. Unfortunately, the depression that can trigger substance abuse can also be the result of substance abuse.
Personal care suffers with many instances of depression, which makes sense. After all, depression changes the way you feel about yourself and how much energy you are willing to expend caring for yourself. Add fatigue and sleep disturbances, and standing in front of a mirror seems ridiculous. Your self-esteem is very low, so you might skip meals or wear the same clothes for days. This can be one of the more alarming signs you may have depression as your appearance and hygiene problems can impact employment and health.
13. Aches and Pains
Joint pain can increase in depressed patients who also have arthritis, but existing pain grows worse with many cases of depression. It can also generate new aches and pains. If you are elderly, you might not feel sad. Elderly individuals are more likely to have physical symptoms, like headaches and arthritis, when depressed. Moreover, medications doctors prescribe to treat pain, lower cholesterol, control blood pressure and bring sleep can trigger depression.
14. Memory Loss or Forgetfulness
Because your brain's chemistry is altered, you may find remembering things more difficult. This contributes to the rapid decline in mental function seen in elderly people who are depressed. It can also explain why elderly patients can forget to take important medications after years of complying with their doctors' orders. Memory problems can also make anger, agitation and sleep changes more pronounced and inconvenient.
15. Suicidal Thoughts or Attempts
Almost 60 percent of depression sufferers also have suicidal thoughts. Of those individuals, 15 percent will attempt suicide, believing that nothing will end their emotional pain and that their circumstances cannot change. People may start tempting death with dangerous activities or become negligent with their own safety. Should you or anyone you know feel suicidal, call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433), or the TTY hotline at 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889).