10 Clear Signs of Depression to Watch Out for Before it is too Late
I woke up one night in tears. The heavy feeling of emptiness was so overwhelming that I myself couldn't understand why such was happening to me. I am now living in Europe and happy in my relationship and I have a good-paying job that I can do anytime anywhere. You see, I have a good and comfortable life. I am not rich or anything but I have a good life and I have nothing to complain about except that I can't eat Filipino foods that I've grown to love.
Maybe it was just hormonal but the feeling of hopelessness and emptiness stayed with me for weeks. I felt useless. I felt unhappy and alone and I wanted to go back to the Philippines and leave everything here abroad and just go back. I felt tired and I couldn't sleep at night (I still have sleepless nights) because my brain didn't seem to want to stop running. I also had nightmares each night and I know because i remember. I am a lucid dreamer.
Was it depression? Maybe or maybe not...But i wouldn't want any of my loved ones to have to go through that.
I am not a very social person. I take pleasure in just staying home because I feel uncomfortable with small talks. I do have friends. I have very good friends in the Philippines and I am wacky and crazy when I am with them. So, I am not anti-social either. I am a happy and positive person and I try to always be connected with my social circle from time to time.
What I'm trying to say is, depression happens to anyone even to the strongest and the most positive person we know. My situation might be normal but other people might be going through the same thing for a longer period of time and we don't know because we don't notice anything. Strong people tend to smile it off when others are around and others cry behind closed doors and silently suffer on their own. While we may always be focused on our own lives, let us always be observant to know when something is off with our loved ones.
We need to be able to spot depression or at least some of its symptoms before it is too late. Here are some things to look out for...
1. Feelings of anxiety, emptiness or sadness that persist for longer periods
It is normal to feel lonely or empty from time to time. If some aspects of our lives do not go the way we want, we always feel frustrated and anxious. This is normal. This happens to everyone. Depression, on the other hand, happens even when nothing is going wrong with your life. It happens even when you are at the peak of your career. Depression is like a black hole that sucks the life out of you little by little and you feel like you can't overcome it.
If you or any of your loved one feels lonely or empty and if these feelings last for more than 2 weeks without any improvement, it is time to seek medical help or time to talk to someone about your feelings. Talking about how you feel is extremely important. It gives you the feeling that you are not alone in your struggle.
2. Feelings of extreme pessimism or hopelessness
If anyone in your family and friends expressed some thoughts about how life is not worth living for anymore or the thought that nothing seems to be going well in their life, be brave and talk to that person. Such expressions are a reflection of what is going on inside their head and it clearly shows an inner struggle. Do not brush it off right away. Talk to the person and ask what is going on in his/her life.
It is so easy to dismiss the subject as just a stress-related condition but we also need to consider that stress is also one of the things that drive depression. Depression is a disease that a lot of people don't come back from. It is a mental disorder that when a person starts to succumb to it, the disease will engulf the person whole until one thinks of nothing else but leaving this world. As the saying goes, no man can live a second without hope...
3. Loss of interest in everything once enjoyed including sex
If you use to enjoy traveling or just being outside close to nature and all of a sudden you lost interest even if you force it upon yourself, then there is clearly an issue. If you don't even smile anymore at your friend's hilarious jokes that you always laughed out loud at before, then you must start to acknowledge that you might be suffering from a depression. When everything that you used to enjoy and love doing becomes nothing but annoyance, it might indicate depression.
It is normal to not be in the mood for sex sometimes. There are times when we are just too tired or stressed at work that we don't feel like being intimate. What is not normal is if this loss of interest in sex persist for longer periods than normal especially when everything seems to be going well. When even just a kiss or a cuddle feels like a chore and all you want to do is just to go to bed and sleep, it could be a sign of depression and you need to talk it out with your partner.
4. Feelings of Guilt, Helplessness, and Worthlessness
I know the feeling of being useless and it is overwhelming. It is so heavy that it feels like it is tearing you apart. I felt like there is nothing I can do for my loved ones and that nothing I can do would be enough. This dark emotion almost consumed me. If any of your friends or family feels the same way, please never ever shrug it off. I was not totally consumed by my dark emotions maybe because I was very comfortable and open with my partner that the moment I realized I wasn't happy anymore, i told him. Thank goodness, he was very concerned for my well-being and we really sat down and talked what he can do to make me feel better.
I am lucky because I have a partner who is constantly paying attention to me and I am not afraid to be vulnerable in front of him. Had it happened with my family, I wouldn't have told anyone of them about my inner struggles because I am supposed to be the bread winner and the strongest. Other people don't have anyone they can easily open up with and once you are already in deep, I don't think it will be easy to open up even to a doctor at all.
5. Shutting People Out
Several studies have concluded that people who have more virtual connections than real life interactions are suffering from depression. When you enter a depressed state, it is natural to feel unloved and when you feel deprived of human companionship, the natural reaction is to build another world where you can escape your thoughts and feelings.
If you know someone in your family or circle of friends who used to socialize with you on a regular basis and suddenly became remote, aloof and extremely introverted, you need to engage that person in a dialogue. When we are struggling inside, we tend to shut people out in an effort to hide our vulnerabilities. Famous people for example, I'm sure that a lot of famous people find it difficult to admit to their friends and family that they are depressed because they fear that their career may soon be over or that they will be perceived as weak and vulnerable to social attacks and so they hide it from people and in so doing unintentionally shut people out. Once you see this red flag, talk to the person and seek professional help.
6. Sleepless nights or Too much Sleep
When a person is suffering from depression, he/she won't be able to stick to regular sleeping patterns. I still have difficulty sleeping early at night. Even when I was tired the whole day, I still can't force myself to sleep. I did everything like successive deep breaths, counting in my head and not thinking at all...None seemed to work. I don't take sleeping pills because I don't want to rely on it. I always go to bed early between 8:30 and 9pm but I always find myself still awake at 1 am. I am not worried or anything and nothing bothers me it's just that my mind just keeps going and going and doesn't want to shut down.
For some people, it is the other way around. They love to sleep and they sleep excessively. They can sleep continuously for more than 12 hours and when they wake up they still feel tired and want to sleep some more. This is a clear indication of depression and it needs to be attended to.
7. Trouble with Concentration, Memory and Making Decisions
When you can't even read an entire article without being distracted or when you constantly forget your keys and can't make sound decisions, it might be a sign that you are depressed. I didn't have real trouble with this though. Even when I felt sad, I was still able to work and focus on the article that I was writing. I never misplace any keys because I always put them in one place. When it comes to decisions, I had no trouble there as well.
Whether what I had was depression or just a feeling of depression, I don't know. But when one of your loved ones start to forget a lot of things while they are still young, or when they can't seem to concentrate in the discussion and always answer inappropriately to casual questions, chances are, they might have depression.
8. Pains that don't go away
The mind is very powerful. It can sometimes create illusions of pain where it is non-existent. When a person is suffering from anxiety, panic attacks or depression, they feel some sort of pain, numbness, muscle aches, cramps, palpitation, difficulty breathing, excessive sweats and digestive problems that can't be treated with medicines. These problems persist and even with medicines, they don't get better.
9. Fatigue, Irritability, Overeating or Appetite Loss
It is normal to feel burnt out and tired after excessive work. Whenever we work too hard, we become susceptible to fatigue and that happens. When you are depressed however, you have no interest in anything and even after a restful sleep, you still feel tired and weak. Simple things also irritate you like the voice of your partner or the bark of your own dog. Nothing seems to brighten your mood.
In addition, people suffering from depression either eat too much or don't eat at all. It is common for them to drink alcohol and take sedatives or sleeping pills. They also don't care anymore about personal hygiene.
Suicidal thoughts or Attempts
I once had negative thoughts and that's when I was hurt in a relationship. It was very brief almost sudden and gone in a few seconds. Never had that again even when I was overwhelmed with dark emotions, i didn't think of ending my life but I did think of food and going back to the Philippines most of the time. So maybe it is safe to assume that I don't have suicidal tendencies.
It is important to note though, that suicidal thoughts happen to most people at some point in our lives. People with suicidal thoughts are not alone in their struggle. It is not a weakness and it is not a personality disorder. It happens to anyone and all we need to do is to remind them that they are not alone.
When one of our loved ones have suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide before, it is important that we constantly remind them that we are always there for them and seeking medical help will help them overcome their condition. Let us remind them that depression is curable and it shouldn't last because there are more to life than what they are going through right now.