If you or a loved one have struggled with depression, you know just how difficult it can be. But sometimes, it’s not so easy to spot the signs of depression, especially when it comes to yourself. And even if you do recognize them, you might write them off as not a big deal — but that can be a major mistake, because paying close attention to your mental well-being is key to maintaining good overall health.
What are the signs of depression?
Depression comes in many forms, and everybody’s situation is a little different. While the causes can change, there are a few typical symptoms you can look out for that might signal depression is to blame. Keep in mind that all of these signs can be caused by other issues, but especially if you experience several at once, it’s definitely worth figuring out if depression is the reason. Possible symptoms include:
- Constant fatigue. There can be many reasons for feeling tired all the time, and depression is one of them. If you’re struggling to muster the energy to do things that are normally simple like getting out of bed or taking a shower, it might be time to take a closer look at your mental health.
- Substance abuse. Many people turn to drugs and alcohol when they’re feeling down. While this is never a good idea, habitual use of intoxicants to improve your mood is one of the surest signs depression is an issue.
- Weight fluctuations. Depression can cause people to rapidly gain or lose weight. For some, eating provides comfort that helps them get through a difficult time. For others, depression causes a loss of appetite. If you notice either of these things happening and you aren’t sure why, it’s time to take a closer look.
- Lack of interest. People who are depressed often aren’t interested in much of anything. If your hobbies aren’t providing fulfillment, or if you just don’t seem as motivated as you used to be, depression may be to blame.
- Unexplained pain. It might not seem logical that depression is associated with physical pain, but it frequently is. This often takes the form of headaches, digestive issues and chronic muscle pain. Take special note of these symptoms if they seem to come out of nowhere.
- Sleep problems. The inability to sleep soundly or sleeping too much are often some of the first issues you’ll notice when feeling depressed. Not sleeping well can also quickly make depression worse, so it’s important to get to the root cause of this symptom as soon as possible.
What should I do if I think I might be depressed?
The first thing to know is you aren’t alone — more than 16 million people struggle with major depression every year in this country. But there’s good news, too: Depression is treatable, and there are countless resources out there to help you get back on track. Here are a few good places to start:
- Eat healthy. Your diet plays a big role in your mental health. And it’s not just about what you eat, but when you eat, too. Strive for three balanced, nutritious meals a day for best results.
- Exercise regularly. Working out has so many benefits — and one of the best is its positive effect on your mental health. Even something as simple as taking a walk for 30 minutes a day can go a long way toward giving you relief.
- Try something new. This is easier said than done when you’re feeling down, but if you can make yourself try a new, positive activity, it’ll help get your mind off of negative thoughts.
- Speak up. It may be difficult at first, but talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling. You might be surprise how much they want to listen — and how much better you’ll feel when you can get those negative emotions off your chest.
- Remove stressors. One of the quickest paths to depression is being stressed out all the time. If you notice a particular thing causing you lots of stress, try to step away until you’re feeling better.
- Talk with your doctor. Your primary care physician can help you get an accurate diagnosis, and can connect you with the people and resources you need to get better.
If you think depression might be an issue, know that you always have somewhere to turn, and there’s always hope. A great place to begin is at one of our mental health support groups. Just remember there’s a light at the end of the tunnel — and your best days are still ahead.
If you’re looking for more resources you can use to improve your health, be sure to check out our blog. It’s full of useful tips and information your whole family can use!