5 Early Warning Signs of Depression
Depression in Context
Depression is a word and concept which used to be surrounded with extreme caution and taboo. In the past few years however, the themes normally associated with depression are changing. This is due to the importance of overall mental health being emphasized and people becoming more comfortable sharing their stories and experience with the condition.
Depression is in itself, a real and serious medical condition. Like most conditions, it is treatable. This article aims to give you insight into early warning signs that can lead to depression or signs that you may be suffering from it.
Disclaimer: This article is in no way professional medical advice and professional medical advisers should be consulted if you feel affected by depression.
1. Negative Self-Talk
The way that we speak to ourselves, whether that be mentally with the voice in our head or verbally, is very important. It is important because the repetition will eventually become our mindset. This can be compared to young aspiring athletes who tell themselves, "I am the best", constantly and trains until they do actually become the best. Negative self-talk works in this way, but has the opposite effect.
During an argument where we may have overreacted or made a mistake at work, it is normal to beat ourselves up. This is almost therapeutic and allows us to see where we were wrong and try to do things different. This can be for example after a fight with your partner where you snapped at them for not remembering your birthday.
Later that day, you may say, "I was too harsh and I overreacted. I don't want to lose them by acting this way." This is normal and healthy as it identifies a negative behaviour and a positive action to build change. Where negative self talk comes into play, is where you mentally exaggerate the situation to be more extreme. "I always overreact. Why am I like this? This is all my fault. They are going to leave me. I would leave me too. I am going to be alone forever." Notice a clear difference?
This can lead to a distorted sense of self and irrational behaviours as if we hear something enough times, we will begin to believe it. This is a possible red flag to reach out for help from family, friends or a medical professional.
2. Inability to Complete Tasks
Completing tasks forms part of our daily routines whether they are chores around the house or activities at work. These become routine and some are subconscious such as simply breathing. Losing this ability is a clear indicator of a larger problem happening in our lives and is not always clear. For instance, not being able to breathe is a stressful and immediate problem as you are losing the ability to do the most routine function of them all. The effects of depression are more subtle and harder to recognise.
A distinct example can be seen in the working environment. Majority of work can be stressful with deadlines and multiple tasks ongoing at the same time. A reasonable amount of stress is needed to create a sense of urgency to complete task for example as "Within 2 hours" or "By close of business".
A sign of depression is not being able to complete any tasks or having multiple unfinished tasks because your mind is under pressure and in a panic state. Imagine having 10 tasks for the day. By end of day, having 7/10 complete and 3/10 not started, is progress. Having 0/10 complete, but 10/10 in progress may seem like the better alternative, but it highlights the earlier concept.
Like losing the ability to breathe, when we find ourselves unable to do basic tasks or keep routines, this is an indicator that you may be experiencing effects of depression.
3. Mental & Physical Tiredness
This next point is often a cause for confusion and false self diagnosis. After a long day of work, feeling mentally and physically tired is fairly normal. Through doing exercise to release endorphins or unwinding with hobbies and a good nights sleep, you will be restored and have energy for another day. An early sign of depression is when after doing all of the above, a person feels either the same or even more tired.
The cause for this is a combination of the earlier red flags detailed and not addressing them. Constant overthinking leads to negative self talk and mental exhaustion. This exhaustion makes even the most basic tasks difficult coupled with not completing tasks efficiently. A person can be tempted into working extra hours or staying up late to make up for lost time which creates a negative cycle of tiredness.
Feeling tired all the time is an extremely difficult concept to explain to those around you. If you feel this is contributing to you losing control of your day to day life, reach out to someone close to you.
4. Disregard for Personal Care
This red flag is a result after experiencing a combination or all of the earlier mentioned signs. After a period of feeling overwhelmed, tired and as if you are letting everyone down, self care is sacrificed. This is a broad term that can include the lack of neat appearance, showering and getting your hair cut. The negative self-talk over time creates the mental picture that you are not worthy or good enough of care. Self care and care from others included.
This is extremely important as it can easily be overlooked by a person or someone could be further judged by others. A person can be labelled "untidy" and "lazy" which in turn re-enforces the negative self-talk. It is in this way a person can become trapped.
5. Preferred Isolation
By nature, we need human contact, interaction and a sense of belonging. In the wild, animals that live in packs often are the strongest, like wolves. Making the choice to consciously be alone as opposed to being around other people is in itself, a dangerous notion. This is not to be confused with people who enjoy spending time by themselves to "re-charge" or clear their head. That is a normal character trait among those that identify as "introverts".
The isolation that I am referring to is where you don't have the energy to meet other people and don't feel you are good enough or that people want to spend time with you. It also is re-enforced by the constant criticism of from the earlier signs that have a physical effect such as the personal self care. In a compromised state, even the words "You need a haircut" can be twisted to be a attack on someone.
Time alone allows your thoughts to run wild and to develop a distorted self image. As difficult as it may seem, reach out to someone you trust and open up about the way you may be feeling.
Reaching Out for Help
If you have had to face depression in any way, whether it be personally or caring for someone close to you, I offer you my strength and empathy. It is extremely difficult and tiring.
The above are some signs, but not an exhaustive list of warning signs. If any are noticed or clearly affecting you, reach out for help whether it be through family, friends or a medical professional and start the conversation.
You can decide your narrative, but it starts with speaking about it. Why? That is because you matter and you are worth it.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Kedan Pentia