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How To Spot The Early Signs of Depression

May 19th, 2020

As anybody who has experienced depression knows, it’s a complicated condition to carry. The beast presents itself in many forms; it stays with some for a very long time, it comes and goes for others, and the severity of it can alternate wildly. The symptoms of depression change from person to person. 

Although we can’t pin down what exactly is going to happen to you before it does, there are some more consistent signs of depression approaching. If you’re experiencing some of these signs, acting proactively to work on your mental health sooner rather than later might help you a lot down the road. Sometimes depression is inevitable and there’s very little we can do, but identifying the signs is one of the first steps to finding some sort of progress.

Concentration is not coming so easily anymore. Work or school assignments might become more challenging to focus on continuously, or may take more time to complete. Try to frame your normal pattern of work to what you’re outputting currently and observe differences. Is your output lower than usual, taking longer, or is the quality consistently lower?

This is not an option for everybody, but one way to address this problem is trying to switch up your work routine however possible. Ask your boss if there’s any projects you can take part in that you don’t normally, or offer help to one of your co-workers if you’re able to get through your own. 

If you are in school, work may be more rigid and you might have to do your best to offer patience through the more grueling work. Try and observe your major or your subject of interest and verify with yourself that this is work you will want to do as a career. If the answer is “maybe” or “no,” maybe a major change is in the works. It will likely save you a lot of trouble down the road, despite how hard it may be to change now!

Moodiness is more frequent and aggressive. Not everybody gets hit with the “what’s the point” attitude before or during depressive stages. If you are being bothered more often or by small things that normally wouldn’t get to you, that can be a sign of things to come. Not everybody who shows frequent agitation or irritability is necessarily on the path to depression, but it can be a sign if this is not a normal behavior pattern of their “typical” personality.

This is where the concept of mindfulness can be tremendously helpful. You know yourself better than anybody, and if you think your level of moodiness is higher than usual, do not rule out the possibility of oncoming depression. Mindfulness of changes like these can help you isolate the problem and even slow it down in the future.

Appetite for even your favorite food is changing. Here’s another symptom that changes form a lot. Many might respond to emotional imbalance by eating a whole lot, while others lose their appetite entirely. Nutritional imbalance of any variety can contribute directly to a worsening of depression, no matter if it’s too much or too little food you’re eating.

If you have the energy to resist negative urges and maintain positive eating habits, your brain will be more able to regulate “happiness chemicals” like serotonin and dopamine at the appropriate levels and directly combat depression. It certainly won’t “fix” anybody outright, but it’s a big stepping stone in trying to find your way out.

You might sleep more, less, or inconsistently. A very common symptom of depression is sleeping much more than usual and not having the ability to get out of bed, but the opposite is true as well. Higher functioning depressive individuals might experience sleeping problems at night. Sometimes brains race through all sorts of frightening or stressful thoughts the moments it finds a second of free time. For busy individuals, this is often bedtime.

This might be one of the most difficult barriers to overcome. Sleep is critical to our wellbeing, and too little can negatively impact our time awake, while too much can hold you back from what needs to get done and degrade mental health. If you are experiencing an abnormal amount of either of these symptoms, seeking professional help is going to be critical.

Final Thoughts

To be clear: these signs are not all-encompassing and apply to everyone. Onset depression might look entirely different to you, and that’s completely alright. Different symptoms do not speak to any level of abnormality or additional problems in the individual experiencing them. These are just signs that tend to be exhibited more often by people that are in early stages of depression.

If you exhibit some or all of these signs and feel like there’s nothing you can do, it’s time to get help. Talk to whomever you feel most comfortable sharing your feelings with: your family, your friends, or a professional. We encourage you to speak to a professional first thing if at all possible, as professionals are in the position to give informed advice, medication, and help to better fit treatment to your unique situation. 

Most importantly, do not let yourself believe that what you are feeling is invalid, false, or fake. Depression can happen to anybody, and not properly addressing it very rarely leads to a lessening of its symptoms. Talk to someone, and find the help that you need.

If you or a loved one are seeking help for depression or substance abuse, contact our admissions team today to get help.