Depression – What Are the Signs?

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We may all feel down or “blue” at times but how do you know when it is time to get seek professional help?

Many people who experience the symptoms of depression might wonder if there is something really wrong with them. A common response from others may be to “Just get yourself together!” or “Think about something else.” Although you may feel alone, the reality is that 25% of people experience a significantly depressed mood at some point in their life.

Depression is the most common disability for Americans ages 15 to 44 and can affect anyone. You may be wealthy or poor, young or elderly, introverted or extroverted, male or female, etc. Anyone is fair game.

The term depression is commonly used to describe a variety of feelings such as sadness, frustration, disappointment, and lethargy. Those with more severe symptoms may be diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) or less commonly referred to as unipolar depression. Major depressive disorder, referred to as depression from here on, differs from these ‘down’ periods in several ways. MDD is more intense, lasts longer (2 weeks+), and causes significant distress with day-to-day functioning.

Here is a checklist often used to diagnose depression. If you can answer “yes” to more than two of these questions and the child’s symptoms have persisted most days in a week for at least two weeks, then it is likely they are struggling with depression that may warrant a professional opinion.

1. Are they sad or irritable most of the day?

2. Have they lost interest in things that they used to really enjoy? Or a significant decrease in energy and lack of motivation to do much of anything?

3. Have their eating or sleeping habits changed?

4. Are they feeling worthless, hopeless about their future, or guilty about things that aren’t their fault?

5. Have they had thoughts of suicide?

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