How to Spot Depression Early

Опубликовал Admin
9-08-2021, 04:10
If you or someone you know has experienced depression before, you probably know it seems to suck you into a dark hole and threaten to never let you out. It’s important to know what warning signs lead up to feeling depressed so that you can recognize them early on or avoid them altogether. While depression triggers differ from person to person, there are some things to keep in mind that can help you steer clear of depression and instead find happiness and fulfillment.

Recognizing Physical Indicators

  1. Check for changes in aggression. Sometimes changes in mood can mean changes in aggression. You may feel more angry, aggressive or restless as a result of depression. This can also include feelings of irritability or restlessness. If you notice yourself feeling more aggressive, you may not automatically think about depression. However, it can be a warning sign to look out for when you do notice changes in behavior.
    • Think about how you interact with your friends and family. Do you find yourself angering easily or becoming frustrated more quickly? If you’re noticing these changes, be aware that it can be linked to depression. Also, if you observe changes in aggression in someone you know, it may be related to depression.
  2. Notice any fatigue. Perhaps you typically work out during the week and recently have not had the energy to do so. Fatigue and loss of energy can be one indication of depression. You may feel like you are fighting off an infection or bug, yet feel fine in your health. Especially if no other significant changes have occurred, fatigue can be a potent first indicator of depression. If someone you know complains of sudden fatigue, be aware that it may be depression.
    • Think about any changes in your energy levels, especially if you feel more worn out lately with no obvious explanation.
  3. Monitor body aches, pains, or problems. Frequent or enduring headaches, cramps, or problems with digestion that don’t relax with treatment may indicate symptoms of depression. If your body is experiencing more pain than usual, it may be related to depression. If someone you know has recently started complaining of body aches, be alert in how it may relate to depression.
    • Think about any recent aches or pains you may be having and ask yourself if they may be related to depression. Did they start around a stressful time? Are they related to any injury or did they just show up?
  4. Check changes in sleep. Perhaps you feel tired all the time, and no matter how much you sleep, it’s never enough. On the contrary, you may feel like you cannot fall asleep or stay asleep at night or that your body seems to need less sleep. If you find your sleep patterns changing, it can be an early indicator of depression. If someone you know complains about changes in sleeping habits, this may also indicate depression.
    • Insomnia has been linked to depression and can also bring on depression. Improve your sleep by not napping throughout the day, avoiding stimulants (like caffeine), not eating before bed, having exposure to natural light, and having a relaxing nightly bedtime routine (like drinking decaffeinated herbal tea, taking a bath, reading a book, and falling asleep at a certain time).
  5. Notice any changes in appetite. You may notice yourself or someone else suddenly not feeling hungry or eating less food than normal. The opposite can also be true: you may find yourself or someone else turning to food more, feeling hungry all the time or not ever satiated. Changes in appetite can indicate depression.
    • If you notice subtle changes in diet and food consumption, be aware that it could be linked to depression. This may look like not being interested in foods that were previously loved or a disinterest in food altogether.

Monitoring Emotional Warning Signs

  1. Look for changes in your approach to life. Depression doesn’t just apply to feeling sad. You may start to feel apathetic about school, work, family, or previous passions. You may also feel like life feels empty or meaningless. If you or someone you know notice increasingly withdrawn attitudes from life or moving forward, it can indicate depression.
    • Ask yourself if you feel disconnected from your life, or if things feel less meaningful than they used to feel. You may have been previously motivated by career advancement, starting a family, or vacation plans. If none of that sounds fun to you any more, it may be a hint of depression.
    • Ask yourself what excites you. You may have eagerly woken up early to run or write in the recent past, but now find yourself detached and uninterested, choosing to stay in bed instead. If you can’t think of anything that brings you joy and excitement, it may indicate depression.
    • If you notice someone else disengaged from previously fun activities and less engaged with life, it may indicate depression.
  2. Notice any difficulty concentrating. Concentration can be affected by depression. If your work at school or at your job has deteriorated due to difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering details, you may consider if it’s related to depression. This can also be true of someone you know; you may notice changes in productivity, distractibility, or difficulty getting things done.
    • If your ability to do schoolwork or your duties at your job decrease, this may be related to depression. Ask yourself if productivity and concentration have changed recently. Do you find it increasingly difficult to start or finish tasks? has the quality of your work declined?
  3. Monitor negative thoughts. If you find yourself consistently lost in negative thoughts and negative thinking, it may be related to depression. You may try to stop your negative thoughts yet find it difficult to think positively, no matter how hard you try. If you feel hopeless or like nothing will go well for you, it may be related to depression.
    • Think about your level of negativity and if it’s changed recently. Do you tend to see things as more negative than you did before? Do you have a difficult time appreciating what you have without finding fault? Is this also true of someone you know? This may indicate depression.
  4. Explore feelings of guilt and helplessness. You may feel guilty about things from your past and you may also feel helpless or powerless to change them. Along with these feelings, you may also feel like you are worthless or that your life is meaningless.
    • Think about your feelings and how you’ve interacted with the world. Has your self perception become more negative? Does life feel like it happens around you, but you’re not an active participant? Do you feel like your life lacks meaning or value, or do you feel overwhelmed by guilt, shame, or helplessness?
    • If you notice yourself feeling less hopeful about the present or future, this can indicate depression as well. For example, you may feel helpless in your present circumstances and also feel hopeless about the future. You may think that nothing good will happen to you.
  5. Pay attention to what friends and family are saying. Your loved ones may have noticed that you are not acting like yourself and they may be asking questions to see if you are okay. Listen to the questions that people are asking you to get a sense of how others perceive your behavior.
    • For example, if you seem depressed, friends and family might say things like, "You've been sleeping a lot lately. Are you okay?" or "You've been getting angry a lot lately? What's going on?"
  6. Take a personal inventory test. Depression screening tests offer an easy way to determine whether or not you may be suffering from depression. They can also give you an idea of how severe your depression might be. Try taking a quick personal screening test to help you determine if you are suffering from depression.
    • You can take a personal inventory test at:
  7. Ask a professional. If you think you may be at risk for depression or fear being unable to cope with depression on your own, it’s okay to ask for help. A therapist can help you find your triggers, discover coping mechanisms to deal with stress, and help you recover from depression and live a happier, more fulfilling life. A therapist can help you assess your depression as well as help you work through it.
    • If you’re concerned for someone else’s mental health, say, “I’ve noticed you seem different lately, more down. Have you considered seeing a therapist? Therapy can be helpful.”
    • If you want help in choosing a therapist, check out How to Choose a Therapist.

Assessing Risk Factors for Depression

  1. Recognize genetic links. If you have a family member with depression, you are more likely to also suffer from depression. Look at your parents and siblings, then at your extended family (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins) and see if you recognize any currents of depression within your family. If so, this puts you at a higher risk.
    • While a genetic link doesn’t mean you will have symptoms of depression, it can increase the likelihood.
  2. Examine previous mental health history. If you’ve experienced symptoms of depression in the past, you are more at risk to experience it again. About 50% of people experiencing a depressive episode will experience another episode within the lifetime. Having a previous episode means you have experience with depression, and may help you recognize factors that are likely to lead you to another depressive episode.
    • Reflect on any things that led up to your previous experience with depression. Were there work or family stressors? Did you stop spending time with friends? What did you notice changing in your life? These can be clues to notice if you start to feel depressed again.
  3. Avoid isolation. If you find yourself often alone or cancelling social plans with friends or family, this can be a risk factor for depression. Social contact can be important for depression prevention and recovery. If you notice yourself cutting yourself off from others, make an effort to reconnect, even if it feels draining. While you may drag your feet to go out of the house, you will likely feel better when you are around people you love.
    • Have a standing call with a friend every week, or join your sister for dinner every Sunday.
    • If you’re having a hard day, call a friend and ask to meet for dinner.
    • If you notice someone else who may have depression, offer to spend time together watching tv, going shopping, or going for walks together.
  4. Manage daily stress. Depression can follow a stressful event (such as moving, starting a new job, marriage, a new baby). Get in the habit of managing stress regularly to decrease the chances of stress building up slowly over time.
    • One great way to manage stress is through exercise. Exercise several days each week for 30 minutes or more. Consider going for a walk or a run, biking, yoga, pilates, or karate classes.
    • You can also manage stress through relaxation. Play with your dog, write in a journal, take a bath, or listen to music. Do things that you find relaxing and let your stress melt away.
    • Encourage someone you know to manage stress. You can engage in stress busting activities together, such as writing, relaxing, and going for a walk.
  5. Manage health problems. Health problems can contribute to depression, and it’s important to manage health problems and chronic conditions adequately. If you suffer from health problems, communicate with your medical professional regularly, and ask if any medications may increase feelings of depression.
    • Managing depression and a health condition can be difficult. If you have depression, you may find it difficult to take care of your health, which can negatively impact your health.
  6. Avoid alcohol or other substances. If you are at risk for depression, don’t drink alcohol or take drugs, as they can increase your risk of depression. While alcohol and drugs may feel like an escape, realize that they may cause more harm than good, and increase the severity of symptoms of depression.
    • Find other ways to connect with friends outside of drinking: have a game night, cook dinner together, or go for a hike.
    • If you’re concerned about a friend having depression, offer to spend time with the friend in non-alcoholic settings.
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