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The Biggest Warning Signs of Depression

written by: HeatherW • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 1/8/2011

Over 17 million Americans suffer from depression every year, and it's believed that more than 50% go untreated. Recognizing the warning signs of depression is an important first step on the road to recovery and to avoid the emotional pain of an untreated depressive disorder.

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    Introduction to Warning Signs of Depression

    Vincent Willem van Gogh - Crying Man 

    Many people who have recurring episodes of major depressive disorder do not see the warning signs of depression. Instead of identifying it for what it is, they attribute symptoms to stress, or they look to some other external source, rather than the depression.

    If those stricken with this disease cannot identify it, how much more difficult is it for non-sufferers to distinguish between "the blues" and major depression? Fortunately, there are common warning signs of depression to look out for, but having said that, it's also just as important to be aware of the less common warning signs, such as difficulty participating in conversations, poor hygiene, being afraid, anxious and worried all the time, having dulled senses, and crying for no reason.

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    The Biggest Warning Signs of Depression

    Common Warning Signs of Depression:

    • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Feelings of pessimism
    • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering details
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
    • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, early morning wakefulness, and sleeping too much
    • Irritability and restlessness
    • Decreased energy and fatigue
    • Loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable such as hobbies and sexual activity
    • Changes in appetite such as overeating or losing weight
    • Persistent aches and pains that do not go away with treatment
    • Digestive complaints that do not go away with treatment
    • Persistent, sad, or "empty," feelings
    • Thoughts of suicide

    It is of the utmost importance to seek treatment with a qualified psychiatric professional as soon as possible should you begin experiencing these symptoms; there is a great possibility that you could be suffering from major depressive disorder.

    As suicidal thoughts are one of the biggest warning signs of depression, sharing these thoughts with a trusted friend is paramount to your mental health and well being. This is the first step on the road to recovery. As with depression, there are signs to look out for if you have a loved one who may be contemplating suicide.

    Warning Signs of Suicide with Depression:

    • Suddenly switching from being very sad to being very happy or calm
    • Always talking or thinking about death
    • Taking risks that could lead to death, such as purposely running red lights
    • Losing interest in things that one used to care about
    • Making comments about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless
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    In closing

    When you are in the midst of a bought of depression, it may seem like nothing will ever get better, but this is truly not the case. Once you have found a good doctor and gotten established on a regular routine of medication and therapy, you will soon begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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    References

    1. American Society for Suicide Prevention - http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_
    2. Undiagnosed Symptoms of Depression - http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/c/18/115607/traditional
    3. Signs and symptoms of Depression - http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression
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      Photo credit

      1. Crying Man - Wikipedia