Everyone has a bad day or even week now and then. If you can’t shed the despondency over time, though, you might have more than just the blues.
Depression, like most mental health issues, is a topic people talk about in hushed tones and dark corners. That’s both ridiculous and counterproductive. Depression is a physical condition, linked to chemical changes in the brain. In simple terms, unbalanced neurotransmitters affect the messaging to neurons and the rest of the brain and nervous system.
Those changes aren’t just “in your head.” They’re very real misfires that negatively affect your physical health as well. They won’t just go away.
If you suffer from high blood pressure or cancer or diabetes, you should treat the condition. The same goes for depression treatment. For the sake of your health, seek help if you recognize any of these nine hidden signs.
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1. Lost Interest in What You Used to Enjoy
Everyone has certain activities they enjoy doing. Whether it’s cooking, running, reading, gaming, singing, volunteering, or meeting friends for happy hour, everyone has their own jam.
It’s true that humans lose interest in certain things from time to time. But you should pay attention to a prolonged lack of interest in doing what you’ve always loved. If your jam has become jammed, you might be experiencing this symptom of depression.
2. Sense of Hopelessness
Given all the turmoil in the world today, it’s not hard to occasionally lose hope. A global pandemic, social unrest, extreme political division, war, and famine are all triggers for despair.
Normally, though, these harbingers of sadness should be balanced by feelings of optimism. If your sense of sadness is persistent and overwhelming, you may be experiencing a key sign of depression.
The same things that cause feelings of hopelessness may also cause anxiety. But instead of feeling a sense of stasis, you may experience fear, unease, and dread.
Anxiety often occurs when you are stressed out about a situation or circumstance. Those without depression will resolve their stress rationally and eliminate the anxiety. If you cannot, it’s a sign worth talking about with your doctor.
4. Appetite and Weight Changes
Some days, you just aren’t hungry. On others, you feel like you’re trying to fill a hollow leg. Changes in appetite may be nothing to worry about, or they could be a symptom of depression or other illnesses.
This can work in either direction. You may be losing weight because you aren’t eating or gaining it because you can’t get enough. If you have struggled with your appetite for weeks or months, it could be a depression indicator.
5. Mood Swings
Everyone has a little Jekyll and Hyde in their personality. You need to experience highs and lows, excitement and calm, laughter and tears to be fully human. These contradictions of emotion are the root of inspiration and creativity, after all.
But if your moods repeatedly swing from one extreme to another, it’s not just frustrating for you and those around you. It may be a sign of something far more serious.
6. Poor Sleep
Racing thoughts and anxiety can keep you awake night after night. On the other hand, sleeping all the time puts your circadian rhythm out of whack. Both wreak havoc on your physical and mental health.
Most people suffer from periodic bouts of insomnia or hypersomnia. But if either or both are persistent in your life, you should discuss it with your doctor.
7. Zapped Energy
Sleeplessness and overexertion can both zap your energy. A restless night on Monday may catch up to you by Wednesday and have you conking out at your desk. Overdoing it on your workout can leave you feeling wrung out. With a return to your normal routine, you can usually set yourself to rights.
Fatigue that’s chronic, however, may be a sign of a serious physical or mental health issue. If you can’t get a zip in your step, you should find out why.
8. Focus on the Past
There’s certainly nothing wrong with reminiscing — we are all the products of our past experiences. But constantly focusing on yesterday’s failures and regrets is not a healthy place to be.
If you can’t shake pervasive thoughts about perceived mistakes, it could be a sign of depression. You need to be able to live, learn, and go forward.
9. Preoccupation with Death
It’s wise to occasionally consider your mortality. Doing so may spur you to make healthy lifestyle choices and avoid unnecessary dangers. Thinking about death all the time, however, is a sign that something may be wrong.
If you’re preoccupied with death, whether it be your own or others’, or have suicidal thoughts, seek help right away. Treatment for depression when you are experiencing this symptom may be a lifesaver.
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Expose Your Symptoms to the Light
Depression is a common and treatable illness affecting an estimated 21 million or 8.4% of adults in the United States. If you have one or more of these signs of depression, you are not alone. Because depression is so common and so treatable, it’s senseless to keep it hidden in the shadows. Treatment can not only vastly improve the quality of your life, it might even save it.
Begin by consulting your doctor or an online healthcare provider, who will ask about your symptoms and probably have you complete a questionnaire. They will evaluate you based on your responses and prescribe treatment accordingly.
Your treatment plan may comprise a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and even alternative therapies. Common medications include those that address varying levels of serotonin and norepinephrine; these have proven to be safe and effective. Alternative therapies include acupuncture, biofeedback, and hydrotherapy. You can expect your provider to monitor your treatment plan and adjust it based on results.
If you’ve been experiencing any of the listed symptoms for longer than two or three weeks, talk to a healthcare professional. With the right treatment, your world will begin to look more hopeful.
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