We all go through periods where we feel low or unhappy. But if you feel low for most of the day, nearly every day, and this has gone on for weeks or months, you may be suffering from depression.
17 signs of depression in adults
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Anhedonia or inability to feel pleasure
- Lack of energy
- Lack of motivation
- Change in appetite
- Weight loss
- Frequent crying episodes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty with memory
- Increased fatigue even after sleeping
- Loss of interest in sex
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Exaggerated feelings of guilt
- Hopelessness about the future
- Constant negative feelings
- Suicidal thoughts
Depending on the severity of your depression, you may experience some or all of these symptoms, which may not appear all at once but one after another.
What are the signs of depression in children?
Most children will experience mood swings as they grow and hit puberty. But depression is different. Depression can affect their performance at school and their interest in extracurricular and sports activities. They may avoid interacting with their family, schoolmates, and friends.
Look for the following signs of depression in children:
- Behavioral problems at school
- Frequent episodes of irritability
- Changes in eating habits
- Problems with sleeping
- Looking sad most of the time
- Loss of interest in games and other activities
- Low energy levels
If you suspect that your child is experiencing mental health issues, talk to your child’s doctor.
What causes depression?
According to some studies, depression may be caused by an imbalance of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are chemicals that help nerve cells and brain cells communicate with each other.
Depression is usually caused by a combination of multiple factors, including:
- Family history of depression
- Alcohol abuse
- Recreational abuse
- Domestic violence
- Separation or divorce
- Loss of a loved one
- Battling with a chronic illness or terminal stage of a disease
- Medications such as:
Factors that increase your risk for depression include:
- Lack of social support
- Tendency toward negativity
- Career failure or struggles with personal/social relationships
How is depression diagnosed?
Depression cannot be diagnosed by lab tests or physical examinations. However, your doctor may ask you about your symptoms and family or medical history, as well as order urine or blood tests to rule out other conditions that can cause depression such as hypothyroidism.
If no medical condition or medication is causing you to feel depressed, your doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist. Your psychiatrist will interview you to help confirm a diagnosis.
How is depression treated?
If you have been diagnosed with clinical depression, treatment may involve working with mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and mental therapists.
Depending upon the severity of your symptoms, you may be prescribed medications such as:
Along with medications, you may also undergo psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy can help you find strategies for dealing with your symptoms.
Even if you are taking medications and undergoing psychotherapy, certain lifestyle changes can enhance their effectiveness and help you prevent depressive episodes:
- Stay physically active. Whether at home or at the gym, exercising can help improve your mood. If you have a desk job, try to get up every 45 minutes and move around for at least 5 minutes.
- Take a walk: Taking long walks, especially in the woods or in a park, can refresh your mind and improve your mood.
- Get adequate sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make you feel irritable and affect your focus, which can aggravate depressive symptoms. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every day.
- Eat well-balanced meals. Ditch processed and artificially sweetened foods and opt for fruits and vegetables. Replace red meat with leaner cuts of chicken and fatty fishes. Avoid snacking in between meals.
- Limit alcohol and avoid recreational drugs. Alcohol and drugs can make coping with stress more difficult. Though moderate alcohol consumption can temporarily boost your mood, regular heavy drinking can be damaging to your mental health in the long run. Some recreational drugs are also known to cause depression.
- Relax and re-energize. Carve out time for yourself to relax, meditate, do yoga, or engage in a hobby that helps you unwind.
- Stay connected. Reach out to family and friends to vent your feelings and express your thoughts. Just being listened to can help improve your overall mood.
- Get a pet. Pets are a fantastic way to keep you engaged in life and give your days purpose. Even a small pet such as a goldfish or a hamster can help you feel better.
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