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Major Warning Signs of Depression

Feeling Empty, Anxious or Sad

It’s normal to experience occasional bouts of low mood, but when it doesn’t pass, it may be a strong indicator that something isn’t right. Common signs of this symptom include staring off frequently, losing interest in formerly enjoyable activities and neglecting responsibilities. A depressed person may also feel little or no emotion and describe feeling numb or empty inside.

Feeling Helpless, Hopeless or Worthless

A depressed person may feel like everything that goes wrong is his or her fault and that everyone blames them. This can occur even in mild depression. The depressed individual may seem resistant to any positive interpretation of a situation and likely believes that he or she has no control over anything that happens in their life. This can be most easily seen in language and actions. Fixation on past situations or mistakes is also common.

Crying Often

One of the most obvious depression signs is frequent crying spells that often don’t have any obvious cause. The biggest signs that someone spends a lot of time crying include red, watery or puffy eyes, sniffing, strained voice, a red nose and frequent disappearances for time alone. It’s important to remember that many depressed people never cry. However, studies have shown that depressed women display this behavior more than men.

Anger and Restlessness

Contrary to the generally accepted stereotypes regarding signs of depression, some people appear to be hyper during their illness. People with this symptom may be irritable, easily enraged, unable to settle down and may also be energetic in a way that seems strained or artificial. They may also lash out at others or misinterpret things people say as being hostile or snide.

Intractable Fatigue

Most people who are depressed have little energy and may sleep a lot or tire easily. Look for an uncharacteristic lack of productivity, complaints of low energy or feeling tired, cessation of an exercise regimen and sluggish movements. In severe cases, the affected person may start skipping work, letting their appearance slide and allowing their home to become messy.

No Joy from Activities

This is often the first and most obvious of the depression signs. Someone who is depressed typically derives no pleasure from hobbies or activities that they once enjoyed, such as exercising, spending time with children, intimacy, painting or caring for pets. Eventually, they may refuse to do anything other than sit on the couch and brood.

Substance Abuse

It’s common for people suffering from depression to abuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to numb the emotional, and sometimes physical, pain they’re experiencing. Plus, substances may be the only things that allow them to feel pleasure anymore. Common signs of this potentially devastating problem include dwindling finances, withdrawal symptoms, avoiding friends and family, missing work, weight loss, haggard looks and apathy toward appearance, cleanliness and responsibilities.

Sleep Disturbances

Sleep problems may occur as insomnia, an inability to sleep, or hypersomnia, sleeping too much. An affected person may stay up until the wee hours of the morning, go to bed when the sun is still up or take frequent naps. They may also be unable to wake up when they need to and may complain of poor sleep quality.

Thoughts or Declarations of Suicide

Suicidal intent is the most glaring and alarming of all of the depression signs. In fact, depression is the condition most closely associated with suicidal behavior. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 90 percent of suicides are committed by people who are depressed, have a substance problem or both. After a while of suffering, a depressed individual might feel that taking their own life is the most logical and effective means of ending their torment.

Statements of intent are the biggest warnings such as expressing a desire to be dead or to have never existed, being better off dead, being unable to go on and wanting to end the pain. The depressed person may also display an abnormal fixation on death, dark music and other morbid themes. Beware of evidence that they may follow through on their threats to their own life such as purchasing a gun, hoarding poisons or pills, giving away their possessions, writing goodbye letters and making impromptu changes to a will.

Depression, even when it appears to be mild in nature, is never something to take lightly. If you see any of these symptoms in a friend or loved one, it can help to encourage them to seek therapy and to speak to the other people who care about them. By intervening now, you may be able to help them get their life back.

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