Depression: Signs, Symptoms and When to Seek Help
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If there is anything we have learned throughout the past few years, especially during the pandemic and economic downturn, it’s the seriousness of mental health. Just the thought of some of today’s headlines can make anyone feel helpless and hopeless. Having a bad day is one thing, but there is cause for concern when those feelings continue for long periods.
Persistent feelings of intense sadness, loss of joy, and indifference can and often do interfere with everyday life. Episodes of this nature differ from daily mood fluctuations and may be signs of depression. Depression is common and can have serious consequences. It can negatively affect thoughts, actions and feelings. The negative impact of depression reduces overall function and may cause severe health conditions. Worst of all, depression can even lead to suicide.
Depression can be caused by adverse life events such as a traumatic event or loss, having a blood relative with depression, experiencing a significant life change, or even a medical problem. Depression can happen at any age, and depression is nearly twice as common in females.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Low mood for most of the day, nearly every day
- Finding little pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Trouble falling asleep or sleeping too much
- Overeating or eating very little
- Feeling tired with a loss of energy
- Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness or worthlessness
- Increased body aches and pains
- Poor concentration or indecisiveness
- Thoughts of death, self-harm or suicide
If you have experienced at least five of these symptoms over a two-week period, it may be time to talk to a qualified health care provider. Treatment for depression often includes medication management, and/or psychotherapy or talk therapy. You can help reduce symptoms of depression by improving your diet, getting regular exercise, avoiding alcohol and illicit drugs, improving the quality of your sleep, and making positive choices to reduce overall stress. If you’re addicted to taking illicit drugs, you can seek help and get outpatient drug addiction treatment. Depression can be serious and can quickly worsen. If you feel down and are showing any signs listed above, please seek professional help immediately.