It’s normal to feel low when things are not going your way, but such feelings are generally temporary and do not have a major negative impact on your life. However, depression is not a simple emotional outburst that can eventually subside as time progresses. Clinical depression is characterized as a mental disorder, whereby you feel sad, have low self-esteem, suffer from a loss of appetite or poor concentration among many other behavioral patterns, which hamper your mental stability and in turn, seriously deteriorate your life – personally, professionally, and socially. The two primary indicators of this debilitating condition are an absolute loss of interest in activities one previously used to enjoy and persistent hopelessness accompanied by a restless feeling.
Depression is one of the most misconstrued mental disorders today and people generally do not take its implications seriously. However, if not diagnosed at the right time, depression can really do some serious damage to your life, which could also be fatal. These 15 early warning signs of depression will help you understand the gravitas of the disorder better and might save you or help you save a loved one who could possibly be affected by this condition as getting help is an absolute necessity to overcome depression:
- Low self-esteem coupled with a sense of hopelessness and guilt
Having a low confidence level, constantly blaming yourself for issues you might be facing or generally being pessimistic about life and worrying about what the future might have in store for you, are some of the trademark signs indicative of depression.
Also, self-blame and feelings of inadequacy are some of the most common and recurring symptoms of depression. Feeling guilty over the most trivial of issues, such as a fight you might have had with an acquaintance or taking things that people casually say to you too harshly, might be signs of you suffering from depression.
- Unwarranted anger or irritability
Coupled with a sense of foreboding, feeling constantly angry with yourself or others around you for minor reasons could possibly hint towards depression. Having regular outbursts over small incidents and lashing out at loved ones or even strangers are among the primary symptoms of depression.
The situation gets worse when accompanied by feeling constantly annoyed – at yourself or others. Suffering from prolonged pangs of anger and irritability arising out of depression can also give way to further mental disorders, such as anxiety issues or substance abuse.
- Constant anxiety
If you feel like your peace of mind gets constantly disrupted over insignificant details and you keep going over incidents or issues in your head until they eat up your mind, you are suffering from anxiety disorder, which only helps depression to get the better of you.
Anxiety-related problems can also result in paranoia (unfounded mistrust and suspicion), which in turn causes physical problems such as palpitations and excessive sweating.
- Difficulty in concentrating and recollecting
It is not difficult to get distracted in the fast-paced world that we’re living in today, however if your feeling of anxiety or hopelessness is accompanied by the inability to concentrate on tasks for more than a few seconds, you might be suffering from depression.
Moreover, along with concentration issues, patients might also have trouble in remembering recent information. This leads to the patient becoming less productive, which contributes to their feeling of despair.
- Rash and reckless behavior
If you are exhibiting qualities of being impulsive, especially if you are usually a cautious person, there might be a chance of you suffering from depression. This may involve activities such as alcoholism, substance abuse, indulging in risky sexual behavior, rash driving or gambling.
Such factors may be a person’s way of coping with and escaping from the emotional turmoil he/she is dealing with. Usually in most cases, such behavior worsens over time.
- Sustained fatigue
Chronic fatigue is a common symptom of clinical depression. Constantly feeling physically tired or worn out, especially when you haven’t performedany major physical activity, might signal depression.
This in turn, leads to other symptoms of depression such as performance issues at the workplace or memory loss; factors which may cause the condition to worsen over time.
Insomnia ischaracterized by the persistent inability to sleep irrespective of how physically or mentally tired you are. The body’s physiological process informs you when you need to sleep and the circadian process (the ‘24-hour’ body rhythms) helps maintain the sleep over the course of the night. Depression hampers these two processes, causing you to suffer from insomnia.
Further, being awake at night and alone to your thoughts may cause you to develop negative thoughts that may heighten the feeling of guilt, hopelessness, self-blame or irritability causing the symptoms of depression to worsen.
- Weight fluctuations
Loss of appetite being one of the most common symptoms of depression leads to rapid weight loss among patients diagnosed with this disorder. Losing weight in such a way is extremely unhealthy; both physically and psychologically.
On the other hand, one might turn to unhealthy binge eating to help comfort themselves and get over the feelings of misery. This may cause one to gain weight suddenly as well, which may further hamper the confidence levels, pitting one further into depression.
- Lack of interest in leisure/pleasurable activities
One of the most reliable symptoms of depression; gradually experiencing a loss of interest in social contact and pleasurable activities may imply the onset of this disorder. For example, losing interest in a sport that you might have been previously passionate about or playing an instrument may indicate depression. Social alienation and isolation are common symptoms of depression as you feel like you cannot connect with others and thus prefer spending time alone.
- Regular aches and pains
Being mentally unsound and unstable might affect your physical body as well in terms of experiencing regular and unexplained aches and pains. This could be attributed to a strong connection between the mind and the body.
You may dismiss this symptom as being a minor issue; however repetitive unexplained pains such as a headache, joint or back pain, may be a symptom of depression.
- Low willpower
Depression creates an environment of despair in your mind that stops you from being strong-willed and productive. If you are depressed, you will be more likely to give in to bad habits or reckless behavior, such as excessive smoking, consumption of intoxicating drugs and alcohol, as well as eating unhealthy foods.
The feeling of hopelessness puts a dent in willpower, which adversely impacts your performance. This worsens the condition of clinical depression over time.
- Denial of reality
If you are depressed, you might generally be so consumed in your own thoughts and feelings of foreboding that you usually feel alienated from the rest of the society and tend to spend time confined to your room only. This may further make you sever and subsequently lose ties with reality. You may over analyze and make a major issue out of certain insignificant situations such as not wanting to wake up early in the morning; so much so that you may finally breakdown emotionally.
- Feeling victimized
You tend to feel as if everyone is out there to get you and bring you down. Small instances, such as a car splashing water on you accidentally or a colleague giving you suggestions on how you can improve your work, may make you feel as if they might be doing it with the motive to make you feel small and insignificant. However, in reality, it is just you feeling this way.
This constant self-victimization causes you to isolate yourself from your family or friends.
- Spending a lot of time in a closed, dark room
You may feel better being alone in a dark room left only to your thoughts, in the process, not realizing the fact that this might be the perfect catalyst to your depression.
In addition to it, the feeling of spending time under the sun or in a room, talking to others around you, might make you feel squeamish.
- Constant suicidal thoughts
Being depressed might even induce suicidal thoughts or tendencies in you. This may start off as moderate to severe self-harm, such as cutting your wrists with a knife.
These suicidal thoughts can not only further mess with your condition but will only get worse and more dangerous as time progresses. Ultimately, if a depressed person doesn’t seek timely help, he/she may end up committing suicide, which could have been avoided through medication and counseling.
There may come a time when you feel as if you have no purpose in life. You may feel helpless, meaningless and the demons in your mind may try and get the better of you. However, at times like these, it’s best not to keep such feelings bottled up. You should try and gain the strength to confide in a professional, who would be able to advise you on how to deal and cope with depression.