Health & Wellness Articles

Recognizing the Signs of Depression

When It's More than Just The Blues

1KSHARES
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.

Member Comments

  • Utilize SparkPeople to assist you in your recovery from depression. Use your blog for therapeutic journaling. Join teams for depression to connect with others who understand what you are going thru and to learn positive ideas and support. Use your tracking arena designated for Other Goals to keep a list of those things you have been putting off. Sparkpeople is a wonderful forum to provide a structure for what you need to overcome depression. I know...I have PTSD but i wont let it stop me from achieving my goals! Add me as a friend. I know what youre going thru. Best wishes to you! - 10/18/2013 3:54:34 PM
  • DINSIK
    ni am but greato article ..http://nxy.in/h
    g812 - 10/18/2013 12:33:06 AM
  • Great article. - 9/1/2013 5:12:06 PM
  • AZURE-SKY
    About 3 years ago, I was feeling mildly depressed, I had lost interest in just about everything, and felt sad and sluggish most of the time. I was due for my annual physical, so had the full blood workup. Turned out that I was hypothyroid. Once my thyroid medication was at the correct dosage (took about 2 months), my feelings of depression disappeared. I also had more energy.

    Now - I'm not saying that all depression is caused by low thyroid hormones. But, it's a good idea to rule out any possible physical causes for your depression symptoms. I was borderline hypothyroid, and the depression was the only symptom I had at the time. I had always struggled with losing weight, so lack of weight loss wasn't a new symptom.

    Often doctors look at the thyroid tests and if the numbers are in the "normal" range, don't consider that the patient could still be hypothyroid. If depression is one of the patient's symtoms, they treat the depression - which doesn't improve because the underlying cause is not addressed. - 8/25/2013 5:16:13 PM
  • Good article. Please note that bipolar disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression. People with bipolar II may have hypomanic states (less than full manic highs) but they are depressed most of the time and usually only seek help when depressed. People typically go for years or decades before being properly diagnosed. The Problem: anti-depressant meds alone can trigger hypomania that can be very destructive. That's when people lose their jobs, friends, families and worse. All because their therapists thought they only had depression. - 8/24/2013 2:52:52 PM
  • LEANRME
    Great article... - 8/24/2013 12:48:22 PM
  • Your articles on a variety of subjects are so important, but truly, I don't think any are as important as this one. Thanks. - 8/24/2013 9:38:59 AM
  • Thank you for this valuable information. My family seems to have a very strong genetic tendency to have depression. Sad to see what happens when people have severe cases at young ages. I somehow escaped, but it is hard to watch my family members. - 8/24/2013 6:06:15 AM
  • Awesome article....thnx - 8/24/2013 2:44:10 AM
  • I suffer from depression and I find that things like EFT (emotional freedom technique), Huna, and other thought provoking techniques work better than a therapist who may never find the right questions to get you to ask yourself.
    I also suffer from chronic pain that is a side effect of the depression. As I peel away the layers of guilt and hurt, as I re-program myself to live life the way I think it should be as opposed to what others think I should be, the pain diminishes and my spirits are lifted. It isn't an overnight thing and if it took 50 years of bad choices to get in this condition and acknowledge that it was a condition, it may take awhile to reverse it but the belief that it can be done carries a lot of weight. - 5/10/2013 12:12:12 PM
  • 2GREATS
    Very good article. I suffer from some depression and am on medication which works for me, but I'm not nearly as bad as my neice, who has had suicidal thoughts. I try to help her by long distance phone by just listening to her. Her mother, my sister, is not very easy to talk to about this since she has never had depression, or if she did, she wouldn't admit it. I printed this article to try to show her that her daughter isn't being stubborn or just having pity parties--she really has an illness. She thinks her daughter just needs to snap out of it and take hold of her life and get over it.

    For those who want this on one page, I found that if I go to print the article, it comes up all in one place and easier to read.

    - 9/26/2012 10:34:01 PM
  • I too would like to see this article printed in its entirety instead of having to shift from page to page. It's too good to be chopped up the way it is.

    I am in total agreement with this article, having living through many severe episodes in my life and just now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for my most recent severe case. When I get so severely down, I contact my mental health provided immediately (or at least as soon at the signs become clear to me) and I get started in coiunseling more regularly than just every 3 months. My MD who manages my medication has not been readily available due to illness in his immediate family. He just recently reduced my medication of citalopram from 60 mg to 40 mg and I'm thinking that 60 mg was very helpful, but I will rediscuss them with him in November at my next appointment. I completely undersatnd why he reduce the dosage due to recent studies showing the medication can have side affects to the heart, but maybe he can come up with something else (agan) that will work better. Maybe I've been on this one too long.

    I do appreciate this article and my BLC20 team for this loving support. Just knowing you have support helps make the journey to recovery a bit easier. Thank you, SP, for printing such a wonderful informative article for others to read. It never hurts to open the eyes of people who wonder if they are suffering with depression and even I who should be an expert in this disease benefited again from reading it. - 9/24/2012 4:12:17 PM
  • POPS4939
    This is a very interesting article,but I think if you had a place to print the article in its entirety it would benefit everyone that would like to read it over and over. Thank you. - 9/24/2012 2:59:50 PM
  • Thank you for this article and for the making the all-important distinction between just having the "blues" and "clinical depression". I suffer from S.A.D. (seasonal affective depression) and until last year, I never understood why I always get depressed during the winter time, then come back to life in the spring/summer/fal
    l. This year, I plan to stock up on Vitamin D and schedule my vacation during the winter so I can go someplace sunny. Thanks for educating and informing. - 9/24/2012 2:45:39 PM
  • BAMAJAM
    Thank you Dean Anderson for this article. You have provided valuable information on a very common condition. Indeed it is important to seek appropriate treatment, not only for the one who is suffering depression, but for the entire family unit. - 9/24/2012 1:05:18 PM

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