Depression affects your thoughts, behavior, body and relationships. If you have worked on beating your depression, you no doubt know what depression looks like for you. We suggest that you observe yourself and the symptoms discussed in the following exercise from time to time.
Conduct a "Depression Review" at least once a week. Select a convenient time and check Depression Review in your calendar. We recommend conducting this review for at least a year after the depression lifts. In your Depression Review, ask yourself these questions:
1. Have I been having gloomy, dark thoughts?
2. Have I started avoiding people or situations that make me feel uncomfortable?
3. What is my mood on a 1 (extremely depressed) to 100 (completely happy) point scales? Has my mood dropped from its usual rating by more than 10 points and remained lower for more than a day or two?
4. Am I having any noticeable problems with my appetite, sleep or energy?
5. Have I been down on myself more than usual?
6. Have I been more irritable than usual?
7. Have I had an increase in guilty feelings?
8. Am I having problems with concentration?
If you answer YES to one or more of the questions above, pay attention! This list contains the early warning signs of an impending depression. Of course, anyone can experience a few gloomy thoughts, a little guilt and difficulty concentrating without sliding into a full-blown depression. However, we recommend taking these warning signs seriously by re-initiating some form of treatment, or possibly self-help efforts if your symptoms are mild.