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Understanding the Signs of Depression

Understanding the Signs of Depression

Depression is perhaps the most common type of mental disorder that currently exists in the population. Many people have experienced depression at some point or another. People usually develop depression after a major event, such as the death of a loved one, or sadness when experiencing a divorce or loss of a job. Major life changes that you have no control over are enough to cause periods of depression. Sometimes brain chemistry can change in such a way that it induces symptoms of depression. The causes are numerous, but the results tend to be similar.

However, there is more to depression than people may think, and it can be quite complicated at its core. There are many types of recognized depression. The most common types that people may experience are:

  • Major depression – Severe depression that lasts for longer than two weeks.
  • Persistent depressive disorder – Formally known as dysthymic disorder, is a type of chronic depression that can last for years. It is not as severe as major depression but still can negatively impact someone’s daily life.
  • Perinatal depression – Depression that begins before a baby is born.
  • Postpartum depression – Depression that begins after a baby is born.
  • Seasonal affective disorder – Depression that begins during the colder and darker months (winter and fall) and goes away during warmer and brighter months (spring and summer)

Each of these types of depression is different and is caused by different reasons, but some signs and symptoms are shared among all of them.

Losing Interest in the Things You Love

One of the most noticeable signs of a depressive disorder is the sudden lack of interest in something someone deeply cares about. Someone who loves gaming might suddenly feel numb when playing a video game. Someone who loves painting miniature models might abandon projects for weeks on end, simply because they can’t bring themselves to work on them. It is like there is a block in their head that keeps someone from getting enjoyment out of or even participating in things that make them happy. If you notice that you or someone you know stops participating in usual and well-liked activities, that can be a sign of depression.

Constant Negative Feelings

People that struggle with depression often feel a constant bombardment of negative thoughts that they can’t turn off. You may feel hopeless or doomed. You might even become irritable and prone to snapping at people. Sometimes there are feelings of worthlessness, sadness, guilt, or pain. You might feel hollow and empty on the inside. These feelings are then the result of trauma and abuse, but they can also suddenly begin for no observable reason.

These thoughts will completely exhaust a person, sapping all of their energy in an attempt to keep moving. If severe enough, these feelings can turn into thoughts of self-harm or even suicide. If you notice someone constantly putting themselves down or think to yourself that you don’t deserve basic survival amenities (such as food and shelter) it is a clear sign that something is wrong. These feelings can become very dangerous, so it is important to get help as soon as possible if experiencing these symptoms.

Changes in Appetite

Those that go through a depressive episode may not feel like eating at all. Sometimes you stop feeling the ability to feel hunger and can simply forget to eat in the haze of depression. Food is vitally important in keeping someone healthy, and skipping meals can become serious. In other cases, someone might begin to self-medicate using food and over-consuming “comfort” foods. If you notice someone rapidly losing or gaining weight in a very short amount of time, it’s time to become concerned. Several other things can cause rapid weight loss or gain, but depression tends to be one of the major causes of it. Depression may also cause digestive problems, so persistent stomach aches and pains can be attributed to depression.

Lack of Energy

Depression saps all the energy out of someone’s body. As a result, many who struggle with depression feel slow or constantly tired. These people may be tempted to sleep for most of the day without feeling any form of true rest. Waking up is difficult as sleeping barely helps. You may not even be able to fall asleep because you feel “too tired”. It’s hard to concentrate or make quick decisions because it feels like your brain is being held back. Just existing feels tiresome. You can barely remember what happened five minutes ago. It’s scary and frustrating to experience these symptoms, especially when struggling with memory.

You might notice a friend who was nearly always bouncing off the walls with energy suddenly start sleeping for most of the day. A loved one might struggle to recall what they had for breakfast that morning. This frustration only feeds into depression and worsens the other symptoms. If you suddenly find yourself sleeping for long periods or unable to move as fast as you used to, you should get checked out as soon as possible.

These symptoms can be very frightening, but thankfully these symptoms can be managed through therapy. Sometimes medications can help alongside therapy. It’s important that if you or a loved one experience these symptoms you call your local mental health clinic for treatment options. Depression can be managed and it’s not so scary once you have a team in your corner to help you. Isolation is the worst thing you can do when experiencing depression symptoms,  and with the right therapist, you and the ones you love can experience the joy of life again.

Depression comes with frightening and confusing symptoms. However, you don’t have to face depression by yourself. There are individuals out there specifically trained to help you and the ones you love to take back your lives. Depression can be managed and sometimes even healed. It doesn’t have to be a permanent part of your life or your identity. Here at Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we understand depression and how it can affect people. There is nothing to be ashamed of, as depression is sadly common. As a result, however, there exist several treatment options available to help those that struggle with depression get back on their feet. Acera Health keeps up with the most recent of techniques to give you the best chance of healing. If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression, call (949) 866-3461 today to take the next step to feel joy again.

LMFT, Program Director at Acera Health | Edited & Medically Reviewed

Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.

Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.


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