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11 Warning Signs of Depression Everyone Should Know

1. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
This symptom looks like a low mood but persists even after time goes by and the cause of the bad mood has cleared up or receded.
2. Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or helplessness
In an “Eeyore-like” pessimistic way, the depressed person can’t help feeling that everything is wrong and it’s his or her fault (rather than the fault of the situation or the illness itself). It’s a hallmark sign of major depression. In mild depression, the feelings are similar but less extreme.
3. Frequent crying episodes
The crying may not seem to have a direct or obvious trigger; sobs often come “out of nowhere.” But it’s not normal to cry every day (though the depressed person may not realize this).
4. Increased agitation and restlessness
Some people with depression fall on the “hyper” end of a spectrum of behaviors, where others are the opposite (see symptom #5).
5. Fatigue and decreased energy
Typically depressed people who don’t show a lot of agitation and restlessness (symptom #4) experience the flip side of those behaviors — an increased sluggishness and slowness.
6. Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable
This is one of the single most telling symptoms of depression.
7. Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
“Fuzzy thinking” is often apparent both to the depressed person and his or her family, friends, and colleagues.
8. Sleeping too much or not enough
Disordered sleep and depression are closely related; in some people, depression manifests as insomnia (inability to fall sleep or to stay asleep), while others experience the opposite extreme: All the person feels like doing is sleeping.
9. Poor appetite or overeating
Again, the symptom tends to show up as one extreme or the other: The person loses interest in eating or falls into a pattern of constant, emotionally triggered eating.
10. Expressing thoughts of dying or suicide
Depression is one of the conditions most commonly associated with suicide. It begins to seem like a logical way to end the pain and suffering. As many as 90 percent of those who commit suicide are clinically depressed, have a substance abuse problem, or both, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. (Many people with depression self-medicate with alcohol, which lowers inhibitions and increases the risk for suicide.)
11. Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that don’t ease with treatment.
Depression is stressful. The physical effects of chronic stress, added to poor self-care brought on by changes in energy levels, sleep, and appetite, can cause an array of health problems.
Silver lining: Getting a loved one to a doctor on the pretext of evaluating chronic symptoms allows you to also report the worrisome depressive symptoms, and get them checked out and, if necessary, treated. This is valuable, given that so many people with depression are in denial. After all, the majority of cases of depression, even the most severe, respond to treatment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

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