Recognizing the Signs of Depression

Recognizing the Signs of Depression

What is depression?

We all experience periods of sadness or feeling "blue" in our life, especially in response to events such as the loss of a loved one or break down of a relationship. Depression is more than feelings of sadness. It affects multiple aspects of everyday life such as work, family, friendships, sleeping, eating, and day-to-day responsibilities. Individuals who experience clinical depression can not simply "snap out of it", and without support and resources depression can continue for weeks or months.

There are many forms of depression with varying symptoms, severity, and persistence. Examples of these are: major depression, dysthymia, cyclothymia, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and post-partum depression.

Depression is not a sign of weakness, and it can impact anyone. It is often expressed differently, however, between males and females, various cultures, and ages.

How can depression impact you?

In general, factors to be aware of when dealing with depression include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Irritability or anger.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness.
  • Alcohol/drug use.
  • Increase or decrease in sleep.
  • Increase or decrease in weight.
  • Tearfulness.
  • Suicidal thoughts/attempts must be taken seriously, and professional help should be sought as soon as possible.
  • Increased fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Pessimism.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Feelings of emptiness.
  • Increase in physical aches or pains such as headaches, sore muscles, or digestive problems.

How does one cope with depression?

  1. If possible post-pone important life decisions such as moving or finding a new job.
  2. Set realistic and manageable goals for the day/week.
  3. Draw on support from individuals whom you trust and feel comfortable with.
  4. Gradually re-engage in enjoyable activities.
  5. Feeling better can take time - be patient with yourself.
  6. Learn about your options with regard to anti-depressant medications and their risks and benefits.
  7. Gain awareness about various predisposing factors such as a family history of depression, stressors, and ongoing issues in your life that can influence feeling depressed.
  8. Incorporate moderate levels of exercise on a daily/weekly basis.
  9. Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  10. Proper nutrition can impact energy levels and how we feel. Monitor eating patterns and the types of food you eat.
  11. Carry with you the names and phone numbers of emergency crisis resources/supports.

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St. Albert, Alberta T8N 6K4