The depression warning signs in Angie would have been far easier for me to recognize, if I hadn't been so wrapped up in myself.
We'd just finished our first semester at college, and I was up early to finish packing for the trip home.
I called in to my roomy Angie to wake her up, no response.
We come from the same hometown and were heading home that afternoon for Christmas break.
I was packed and ready to go by 11, but still hadn't heard a peep from Angie. I yelled in to her again and banged on her door ....still nothing. I called her cell, thinking she may have spent the night with a friend.
I was apprehensive when I heard the muffled ringing through her door.
... But nothing could have prepared me for what I saw next.
-Play The Video For Some Common Warning Signs of Depression.
-Or skip ahead to 11 Depression Warning Signs
Angie and I have been best friends since we were about six. She's always been sensitive and thoughtful, but also high-spirited, witty and just a lot of fun to be around.
We lived through first boyfriends, freshman jitters, proms and graduation. We made it all the way to college together, and things were playing out just the way we planned.
The first weeks away from home were eventful and invigorating, if not just a bit daunting. We survived though, and it seemed we were off to a pretty good start.
We found this amazing uptown apartment, had a few classes together and were getting into a rather comfortable routine. There were no obvious depression warning signs I could see.
The Early Signs of Depression
I struggle to recall any early signs of depression I missed, clues to what Angie may have been going through. On the surface, she seemed to be settling in the same as me; we went to class, did homework together, and hung out when we could. We weren't partying that much and neither of us had ever been into drugs, no depression warning signs I can think of.
-Looking back, Angie's habits were sending a clear signal that she was not well. She got drunk every time we went out - binge drinking they call it. I know now, she was self-medicating, one of the classic early signs of depression. That's Psych 101.
She slept a lot too, thinking back, she'd spend entire days in bed. But that was only once in awhile, right? Digging deeper into my memory, I realized that it was,much more often than that. One of the depression warning signs I somehow failed to notice.
Angie didn't always go to class either. I knew she'd skipped more than once, but whenever I asked her about it, she'd be quick with the excuses "I had a headache, I was too tired, etc." I realize now she was covering up, probably not even aware of her own inability to cope.
Only the week before we'd talked about our final psych papers. Angie said she didn't want to share hers with me until grades came in.
-The truth was she never turned it in ....she'd never even written it.
Then, not showing up for the final, telling me she'd taken it earlier. Turns out she skipped the exam, along with all her others. She hadn't done any real work for weeks and was failing most of her classes.
How did I miss all the signs that seem so obvious to me now? Angie's depression signs went unnoticed because I wasn't looking.
What Depression Warning Signs Look Like
Just before Christmas break we were at the apartment discussing the holidays to come. She was sitting on the couch in sweats and a t-shirt drinking a beer.
It was barely 10 a.m.
"It's 5 o'clock somewhere," she said, lifting the bottle to me. "Here's to the end of our first semester of college." Drinking alone like this was not Angie.
"How much have you had?" I asked.
"It's been a long semester." She laughed. But her eyes weren't smiling. She was pale, her hair a mess, she didn't look herself.
"Is everything ok? You don't seem right."
"I'm getting better every minute!" "Come on. School's done. Relax and take a breath. It's time to celebrate! Grab a beer. We've earned it."
-She had a point, I thought. The past few months had been quite a whirlwind, and I really could use a break…and a drink. Or two.
We drank all day, reminiscing about the past few months. By happy hour we were hanging with friends in our favorite pub. I left, Angie was smashed well before midnight when she was put in a cab to head home.
Since we were little kids, Angie and I could, and often did talk for hours on end. We would make lavish plans, talk about our hopes and dreams for the future. -She was always so excited, so self motivated.
We didn't do that anymore.
Angie slept way too much, and she rarely wanted to do anything outside the apartment except hit the bars. I had to plead with her to do the simplest things we'd always enjoyed - playing cards, working out, even shopping.
-She'd always been in great shape, but recently Angie had packed on the pounds. I attributed that to the "freshman fifteen."
Her attitude had really changed. She was more negative than I'd ever seen her,impatient and irritable. "My hair's a mess, I'm way too fat now" - She seemed so hopeless. Even when we were out partying, she'd hover just outside the group, away from all the fun and comradery.
-I never noticed her suffering, never saw the monster that had stolen her hope and caused her such unhappiness.
Angie had been slowly tumbling into a pit of despair.
When the Depression Warning Signs Hit Home
The image of Angie's body will be with me forever. She was in bed. Well, her legs were in the bed. The top half of her body was draped over the edge as if she'd been reaching for something on the nightstand but didn't quite make it.
The bloody knife. Her long dark hair was stuck to the side of her face and wound its way through a pool of blood and vomit on the floor.
....I froze, in shock.
After they took her away I was heartsick, had I just lost my best friend? I wracked my brain to think of something I could have done to prevent it.
-I remembered so many times when Angie's demeanor had seemed off, but I never said anything.
Why hadn't I done something?
-Fortunately, there is a lot of help out there
Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can always be helped and often even cured with treatment. Everyone has a bad day from time to time, but a bona fide depression is much more than having a bad day or two or a bad mood for few days.
-While the exact cause of depression is unknown, certain people have a higher risk for it than others. It tends to run in families.
Depression signs in women are more than twice as common than in men. College students also have a somewhat higher incidence of depression than other groups.
Everyone knows someone who has used the depression drugs Zoloft, Prozac, Xanax or Welbutrin, Paxil, or Cymbalta just to name a few.
-They can all be extremely effective, especially when used in combination with counseling.
Sometimes counseling alone is all that's really needed to begin the healing process.
-The "mood enhancing" benefits of exercise should not be overlooked.
The most important thing is that first step. Recognizing that there is a problem and getting the help that's needed.
The physical signs of depression can be overwhelming and quite disabling, and far too many people miss the clear signs because they often just don't recognize the early warning signs.
Dysthymia, (Dis thigh' mia) a mild but chronic form of depression, has the same symptoms as clinical depression, but is less intense. Being a constant type of depression, it can mask the depression warning signs.
-Because people with Dysthymia can have the depressive disorder, sometimes from childhood, friends and family may believe the symptoms to be part of the person's normal character, thereby missing the signs and symptoms of depression altogether.
The symptoms can then escalate into signs of clinical depression that tend to have the more intense "episodes" rather than the steady, albeit milder form that Dysthymia may display.
In diagnosing depression, the signs and symptoms of depression can, and often do vary widely from person to person. There are also some physical and psychiatric conditions that may imitate the symptoms as well.
A depression diagnosis has been called the 'common cold of mental health' especially since the release of the medication Prozac in 1988.
Have you felt down or "blue" for a day or two about a particular situation or maybe for seemingly no reason at all?
I think we all have.
So in diagnosing depression, the real question is: When does "feeling blue" translate into a real depression problem?
Depression is a mood disorder that affects your mental health and can negatively impact your ability to function and perform daily activities.
Depression signs can interfere with your day-to-day enjoyment of normal activities.
It may also cause physical complaints, like the aches and pains caused by the mental stress.
Or it may just keep you isolated from your family and friends, but you're still able to work.
Listen to Bob Arnot M.D. above, for more on Diagnosing Depression.
There is the frequency of the signs and symptoms of depression, or how often you feel this way. Are these feelings related to a situation, such as separation from your partner, or is it random?
-Do these feelings occur on a daily, weekly or on a monthly basis?
There is also the severity of the depression signs, such as how bad you feel? Would you consider suicide? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the worst you could imagine - how would you rate these feelings?
-And the last part is the duration of the symptoms of depression. In diagnosing depression, the duration refers to how long these feelings have been going on. Have these feelings of being blue or down been going on for days, weeks, or possibly even years?
How these parts, or questions (how often, severe, and long) are answered may provide clues in diagnosing depression, as well as the type diagnosed.
-For Example: Clinical depression is generally the most severe form.
Dysthymia is a less severe form, but the duration could be a lifetime.
-For those with a Manic Depression diagnosis (bipolar), the duration may also be a lifetime, with depression signs and symptoms of varying degrees of severity, and with the addition of mania symptoms as well.
When diagnosing depression, there are many hypotheses as to what actually causes the depression signs and symptoms, but it may well be that it’s a combination of all the factors involved.
-It is believed that some of us are genetically predisposed to the feelings of depression. Professionals also believe, that in many cases a preexisting vulnerability may be triggered by stressful life events.
Some people are able to point to a specific incident that precipitated their depression symptoms, such as losing an important job, a partner leaving, or perhaps a loved one dying. But, this is not always the case.
-This combination of emotional trauma, pain experienced in the past, in addition to triggers from current events may be enough to cause the signs and symptoms of depression.
Professionals are seldom able to point to one specific cause in diagnosing depression. In fact, the signs of depression are often caused, or may even co-exist with other psychological or physical conditions.
-Other maladies such as: low self-esteem, anxiety, alcohol/substance abuse or eating disorders may also be a cause of depression.
Though in the case of eating disorders or substance/alcohol abuse, it may even be the result of depression. (depression or eating disorder?)
1. - Apathy: The loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable is definitely one of the depression warning signs. A depressed person has no desire to do things that they used to truly enjoy.
This includes hobbies, sporting events, and favorite activities, even sex. Simple things like working out or going shopping are no longer fun.
2. - Appetite or weight changes: Any unexplained change in appetite or weight can be one of the early signs of depression. This includes eating too much or having no desire to eat at all. This can be very dangerous, at times leading to eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia.
3. - Fatigue: The exhaustion that can come with depression is unlike any other type of weariness. Of all the depression warning signs, this symptom can be the most pervasive of all, and the one that prevents a depressed person from living a normal life. (they just want to sleep)
4. - Guilt: The symptoms of depression are often invisible to family and friends, guilt often accompanies it, exacerbating feelings of despair, pessimism and worthlessness, feeling at fault for everything wrong.
5. - Behavioral changes: Binge drinking, skipping class or work, lying and making excuses; any behavior out of the person's norm is another of the early warning signs.
6. - Hopelessness: A depressed person can feel profoundly pessimistic and negativity frequently creeps into a their persona, along with unexplained emptiness and irritability.
7. - Sadness: Being sad for no apparent reason is probably the most well-known of all the depression warning signs, and it includes a persistent "empty" feeling that lingers all day, every day, for months and sometimes years.
8. - Memory: Inability to remember everyday things, lack of concentration and trouble making decisions.
9. -Sleep Problems: Having trouble sleeping. More often a depressed person will get much more than what would be considered the normal amount of sleep, often "hiding" in their sleep patterns.
10. - Withdrawal: depressives tend to shy away from others and spend more and more time alone.
11. - Suicidal thoughts: Depression is a mental disorder. The symptoms of depression are so pervasive and overwhelming, it is not uncommon for suicide to be viewed as the only solution.
-Over 3% of all people with major depression, will commit suicide.
-Up to 60% of all people who do commit suicide will have some form of depression disorder.
Other Physical Symptoms May Include:
How Do I Know If I Am Depressed?
If you’re aware of these depression symptoms in yourself, especially if they’re out of character for you personally, you may be depressed.
-When these depression signs are negatively affecting your life, you may be noticing more problems at work, with your personal relationships or perhaps difficulties getting along with family and friends without an easy resolution. It might be time to seek help before things escalate.
After diagnosing depression, most professionals agree that in the treatment of the depression signs and symptoms, antidepressant medications, when used in combination with various forms of psychotherapy, most often will produce the best overall result.
-This belief is backed up through research and experience. Prozac is one of many antidepressants that have been used with success for many people suffering with depression.
And with the addition of the appropriate form of psychotherapy, those affected are quite often able to discover something in their past that may have affected their behavior in the present to help their situation.
The Good News:
-If you believe you may be suffering from depression signs, don't suffer alone in silence. Eighty percent of those seeking help will be helped; there are professionals who can help you find the happiness you so deserve.
How To Help Overcome The Depression Warning Signs
* The worst day of my life turned into one of my best. I found Angie in time to help her save her own life. At first she hated me because I had ruined her attempt to end the pain.
But thank god I did, I've got my best friend back!
Today she's a survivor and a counselor herself, who helps new college students adjust to the dramatic challenges that college life can represent.
-If a loved one exhibits early warning signs of depression, there are some things you can do to help them to cope:
-Talk. -Yes, just taking some time and talking things over can sometimes be all that is needed. Of course one time only will probably not be all that is needed, but it can be the first step the person needs to accept the fact that they are depressed, and to seek additional help.
-Observe. When someone you love exhibits even subtle changes in behavior, pay close attention to what they do and say. Is it normal for them?
Don't be afraid to speak up, intervene if necessary.
-Question. If you suspect a friend or family member is suffering, and has depression signs, ask them to tell you truthfully how they feel and don't let up. Reassure them that you will not judge and that you will go the extra mile to help. And then do it.
-Be There. No matter what they tell you, if you notice depression signs, stick with them and never allow a depressed friend to go through their hell alone. Even if that means seeking professional help together.
-Understand. Depressed people feel a lot of guilt and shame and often blame themselves for their problems. Offer a sincere and sympathetic ear and don't belittle what may seem like unreasonable thoughts and emotions.
We all have them sometimes.
-For More Information -Try a Depression Term Specific Search Below:
There can be a stigma attached to depression that many of us don't want to admit to, it's easier to deny its existence than to deal with it.
-If you feel that you, or a loved one is suffering with the depression warning signs, it's nothing to be ashamed of.
Millions of people suffer or will suffer from depression; fact is, all of us will feel the depression signs at some point in our lives.
-The only thing to be ashamed of is not getting the help you need.
Please ....don't ignore the depression warning signs.
|-Additional Information on Depression and Your Health...|
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