It's important to remember that depression is an illness that affects both the body and mind. It is not something that we can just wish away or "snap out of," nor is it a sign of a weak character. The good news about depression is that almost everyone suffering from this condition can be helped with treatment, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the main symptoms and signs of depression are the following:
- persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
- feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
- difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- restlessness, irritability
- persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
If you have been experiencing several of these symptoms to a degree that they have impaired or affected your life, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find out whether or not you are suffering from depression and direct you to appropriate resources for treatment and recovery.
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