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Recognizing the Signs of Depression

When It's More than Just The Blues

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Nearly everyone has experienced a time when it hardly seems worth the effort to get out of bed, or when the problems they face seem so overwhelming that they're not sure where to begin. Let’s face it—life can be difficult and depressing. And feeling sad, overwhelmed, guilty, or hopeless is a normal human response during those times.

In fact, just like physical pain, these feelings and thoughts are helpful warning signs that something isn’t right. They may be telling you that you’ve suffered an important loss and need to spend some time grieving; that what you’ve been doing isn’t fitting well with your real needs and desires; or that you simply need to slow down a little.

But sometimes these feelings and thoughts take on a life of their own, dominating your experience for extended periods of time. Instead of reacting to events appropriately, you're only able to see and react to the negative aspects of your experience, or you become unable to experience the pleasure, interest, or satisfaction that you normally get from daily activities and relationships. To make matters worse, this sadness, lack of interest, worthlessness, and hopelessness feels more real to you than any efforts to cheer you up. Being depressed feels like the way things “really are,” not like a medical problem.

Recognizing the Signs Depression
It isn’t always easy to tell when normal reactions to difficult situations (grief, sadness, etc.) have crossed the line towards clinical depression that needs treatment. However, the number of signs or symptoms you are experiencing, along with the duration and frequency you have them are all important. You are probably dealing with clinical depression (which warrants a visit to your doctor for evaluation) if you have experienced 5 or more of the following symptoms (and at least one of them is among the first two listed), nearly every day for two weeks or more:

1. Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
2. Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
3. Thoughts of death or suicide
4. Feeling worthless or guilty
5. Problems falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early or sleeping too much
6. Unexplained decrease or increase in appetite, resulting in weight gain or loss within the last month.
7. Trouble thinking, concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
8. Extreme tiredness or lack of energy that interferes with your ability to work or take care of your daily responsibilities
9. Feeling restless, unable to sit still, or abnormally slow when moving
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

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