Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness, affecting an estimated 10% of American adults each year. Depression tends to go hand in hand with other mood disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, and it can take a severe toll on quality of life. This guide will explain the early signs of depression that you should look out for in order to spot the disorder in yourself or in your loved ones. The earlier you seek treatment for depression, the better; numerous effective treatment options are available that can drastically improve your symptoms and quality of life.
1) Social Signs of Depression
One of the early signs that might be easiest to spot is a change in social interaction. Often, well-meaning friends and family will offer advice that is intended to help but actually makes you feel judged and alone. Social withdrawal is one of the most easily identifiable signs, and it should be taken seriously, especially if you believe it is related to post-traumatic stress disorder. Try to find a friend or family member you can confide in and explain that your tendency to withdraw may be due to your depression. This way, you can create an accountability partner who can check up on you and encourage you to engage more with others, even when it means stepping out of your comfort zone.
2) Lack of Interest
One of the telltale symptoms of depression is a sudden or gradual disinterest in activities that you normally enjoy. While it is normal to lose interest in various things over the course of time, one of the early signs that you are depressed is a loss of interest in many different aspects of your life that were previously important to you at once. For example, you may no longer see the point of engaging in a hobby that has always relaxed you, or your work may seem to have lost its meaning.
Another one of the early signs is if you are still trying to engage in activities that you normally find fun only to become bored and disinterested. Eventually, as the symptoms progress, you may stop doing all but the absolutely necessary tasks in your daily life that you need to accomplish in order to hold onto your job, apartment, and family. Advanced signs of depression include a complete lack of interest even in the things you need to do in order to maintain your standard of living.
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3) Sleep Problems
Significant changes to your sleep schedule are a common sign of depression. You may sleep much longer than usual, a lot less than usual, or have a mixture of both over time. You may even sleep normally on some nights, but have significant trouble falling asleep or waking up on time the next day. If your sleep disturbances become so problematic that they affect your ability to stay alert and awake while driving, at work, or during recreational activities, this should be taken as one of the symptoms becoming more severe. While sleep deprivation for a short period can serve as a temporary cure for some of depression’s early signs, exhaustion generally worsens the depression symptoms after a few days.
Sadness is one of the most commonly misunderstood early signs and symptoms of depression. Sadness is perhaps one of the most stereotypical signs of depression, although it is possible to have severe clinical depression without actually feeling sad. However, many depressed people do feel a very deep sense of sadness, so it is important to learn to distinguish between life’s usual ups and downs and the true early signs of depression. Another one of the telltale early signs that you have depression is feeling sad for no reason at all, or feeling deep sadness over things or events that would normally not upset you. Unlike sadness caused by normal life experiences, sadness caused by depression usually lasts longer than a few weeks and can continue indefinitely without treatment.
One of the most disturbing signs for many people is a sense of detachment from reality. Detachment is often associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. You may feel strangely detached from the physical world or merely detached from your own emotions and experiences. If your depression is related to post-traumatic stress disorder, your detached episodes may involve a considerable amount of anxiety. In cases of severe post-traumatic stress disorder, a person may be so detached from reality that hallucinations occur. One of the early signs of a depressive episode is sometimes described as feeling as if someone else is living your life while you are merely in the passenger’s seat along for the ride. Although detachment can be one of depression’s early signs, it is also one of the main signs of depression that encourage people to seek treatment and get an official diagnosis. This is because, unlike many other signs of depression, detachment is generally an unmistakable feeling.
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6) Early Signs of Hopelessness
By far one of the most troubling signs of depression, hopelessness makes you feel as though you are stuck in a hole with no way out. Hopelessness tends to coincide with depression as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, which makes it an urgent marker. If you have been experiencing these signs for more than a few weeks, there is a good chance you have clinical depression and could benefit significantly from professional treatment. Contrary to common belief, depression can’t be cured by adopting a positive attitude and hoping for the best. Depressed people are not weak or merely sad. If you are suffering from these symptoms, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help from those around you. Depression is incredibly responsive to treatment, and once you have worked out the right combination of medication, therapy, and support for your needs, it is possible to regain control of your depression and start enjoying life again.