National Depression Education & Awareness Month: Learning to Recognize the Signs of Depression
- Category: Mental Health
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October is National Depression Education & Awareness Month, a time to spread information and educate the public on a pervasive and detrimental illness that affects so many – depression. Since the beginning of the pandemic, mental health conditions such as depression are on the rise, and its effects can be serious and life altering. Learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression is important so that you can seek treatment and return to mental health.
What is Depression?
Depression is a long-lasting mood disorder and mental illness affecting many people of all ages. While everyone feels the blues occasionally, depression is classified as a persistent sadness that lasts for weeks to months, significantly affecting your quality of life and day-to-day routine. Depression will often make it difficult for those afflicted to experience joy or pleasure at all.
Depression is a common condition that affects about 1 in 6 of people, from children to older adults. Unfortunately, like many mental illnesses, depression faces a social stigma and is often treated as a sign of weakness. People who are depressed may be unfairly told to “get over it” and not taken seriously about their symptoms. However, depression is a very real condition that is highly treatable. You don’t have to suffer alone.
Recognizing the Signs of Depression
There are many signs and symptoms of depression, which may vary in severity.
One of the most-common signs of depression is an overall sense of hopelessness about life. You may feel helpless to change the things you’re unhappy about in your relationships or at work. You may also have ongoing feelings of undeserved guilt, self-loathing, or worthlessness.
A major physical symptom of depression is extreme fatigue, which often makes it even more difficult to maintain an active life. You may find yourself sleeping more than usual or have trouble waking up in the morning. Depression can also cause sleep disturbances and insomnia, which will only add to fatigue.
While depression and anxiety don’t always go hand-in-hand, many people with depression also suffer anxiety symptoms. Common signs of anxiety include intense fear or dread, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, shaking, and intrusive thoughts.
- Loss of interest
If you are depressed, you will often actively avoid activities you once enjoyed. You may lose interest in hobbies, neglect your personal relationships, or struggle with productivity at work.
- Extreme emotions
Depression doesn’t only cause feelings of intense sadness. Other emotions can become overwhelming and uncontrollable as well. You may suffer from angry outbursts and other intense, life-disrupting mood swings, which may put a strain on your relationships.
- Changes in appetite
Depression can affect weight and appetite differently depending on the individual. You may eat more than usual and gain weight, or you may find you have little appetite and lose weight. Any unintentional weight gain or loss could be an indicator of depression.
If you are depressed, you may find yourself getting frustrated or annoyed with things more easily or becoming irrationally irritable about small inconveniences.
- Physical symptoms
Headaches, digestive issues and stomachaches, and back pain are all among the physical ways depression can manifest.
- Substance abuse or risky behavior
Depression can drive people to engage in self-medication through unhealthy methods, such as alcohol or drug use. You may also engage in impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, as a means of distraction or in an effort to be happy.
Seeking Treatment for Depression
If you believe you have experienced any of the above symptoms for a duration of two weeks or more, you might be living with a depression disorder. Getting effective treatment for your depression is essential to get back to mental wellness and improve your overall quality of life. Christian Health’s LiveWell Counseling has a team of dedicated, highly trained physicians and therapists who can assess and treat a variety of mental health issues, including depression disorders.
If you are seeking assistance for depression, please call our Admissions Office at (201) 848-5500 or click here for more information.