Sunday, June 1, 2014

5 Warning Signs of Depression and What to Do About Them

Something doesn't feel right.

Maybe you don't want to admit it to yourself, but you can't ignore all the signs. You get through your days okay, though some are better than others. What it really comes down to is you feel like you lost your spark, that edge that made you want to hop out of bed and take on the world and all it has to offer.

If this sounds a lot like you, you might be depressed. People tend to write off bad moods and listlessness as personal weaknesses, not serious mental health issues. And western culture, with its heavy emphasis on toughness and self-reliance, still stigmatizes people who seek treatment for their legitimate mental health issues.

Depression is often difficult to detect. The reason is because its victims suffer with it for so many years they don't know any better... they don't realize their lives could be radically different. On some days its symptoms are subtle, while on others it's easier to tell there's something seriously wrong. If you're on the fence about whether you might be depressed, here are the most common warning signs:

1. Your sleep patterns change. You might think that you only need to worry if you find yourself sleeping a lot more than you used to. This is not the case, however. Significant changes in sleep patterns - either sleeping longer or shorter than normal - are telltale signs of depression.

2. You feel tired all the time. Another thing you need to look out for is a constant lethargic feeling or hesitation to take on your day. If you find yourself having a difficult time getting out of bed in the morning, even after sleeping long hours, you could be depressed.

3. You can't focus, make decisions, or remember details. When you're awake during the day, you "go through the motions" of life. You do your best to carry on your daily routine, but it's almost like there's a big mental haze clouding up your actions.

4. You're often irritable or annoyed. The stereotypical person who is "blue" is portrayed as apathetic and unaffected, but this is an inaccurate depiction. Sometimes when people get angry a lot over minor things, the anger or frustration is just a surface emotion. Those disturbances can mask a greater issue.

5. You've lost interest in things you used to enjoy. This is a huge warning sign. If your favorite hobbies and spending time with loved ones becomes a chore, or if you find reasons to neglect them and spend time doing other things, you are probably struggling with this mental health issue. Depressed people have a hard time understanding why they can't find the joy in the simple things in life anymore. They wish they could find that "spark" again.

As you can see above, many of the warning signs of depression aren't obvious. It's easy to justify those negative feelings away as some type of weakness or sensitivity on your part. But it's critical that you don't do this. The first step to recovery is realizing you are dealing with a serious mental health issue, and it's not your fault! It has nothing to do with how tough you are or your maturity.

Once they decide to seek treatment, many people jump at the chance to take the first antidepressant their doctor prescribes for them. You should think twice before doing this because these pills are often expensive and come with dangerous side effects.

Depression is a complicated illness that hinges on a wide variety of factors. Therefore, exploring alternative methods to treat it is a wise choice. Embracing a holistic approach to fighting your illness - through dietary changes, self-help, and the incredible power of your mind, to name a few - can be an effective way to eliminate your symptoms for good.

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