Signs of Depression
Depression does not just look like sadness, so it can be hard to recognize. If you can identify with more than a few symptoms from the checklist below, lasting for at least two weeks, you need to seek help from your doctor or a mental health professional.
- Irritability, restlessness, increased anger and/or fighting
- Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities; isolation
- Feelings of hopelessness or desperation
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or shame
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Declining school performance
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Change in appetite or weight
- Decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling “slowed down”
- Decreased ability to concentrate, remember, or make decisions
- Increased alcohol and/or drug use
- Thoughts of death, suicide, or wishes to be dead
lower your risk of depression
A healthy lifestyle is the best protection against depression. Our body, mind and heart operate together – so when your body is out of whack, such as when you’re tired, stressed, or hungry, thought patterns can be affected. Below are some ideas to help you keep living life in balance:
- Follow a heart-healthy diet – over time you will get used to feeling better when your diet is comprised of nutritious and whole foods.
- Engage in regular aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, swimming, etc.) Endorphins, a chemical that makes you feel good, are released when you exercise and work up a sweat.
- Get enough sleep! It takes a lot of discipline to make sleep a priority, but it’s worth it. You think better, feel better, and are healthier when your body has the time to rest and recharge.
- Refuse alcohol and other drugs. They can trigger depression as well as magnify it. Using drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism does not solve the underlying problem, and may make your situation worse.
- Avoid harmful situations, websites and relationships. If there is abuse, reach out for help. That is not betrayal – it is acknowledging that you have worth and dignity as a person, and you deserve to be loved and treated well.
- Connect with people who can help you by dialing United Way’s 211, and ask them for resources. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911.
- If there are situations where you are being hurt that you can avoid, do so. It will be uncomfortable to make the change, but your well-being is worth it.
- Limit your use of electronics and spend more face-to-face time with people you like. Social media can be great, but can’t replace the person right in front of you.
- Do things that help you lower your stress levels and relax, like getting involved in your place of worship, enjoying nature, playing sports, dancing, listening to music, doing something creative, and laughing! (Again, connection between physical and mental – the muscles used in laughing actually release more chemicals that make you feel good.)
- Say and do randomly nice things for people. Being kind to others raises your self-esteem, which is a protective measure against depression and suicidal thoughts.
It is good to take care of others. But be sure to take care of yourself first. And be aware of the signs of depression, so that if you see them in yourself or in a friend you can take action to get the joy in your life back.
Warning Signs of Suicide
Suicide danger signals should always be taken seriously. If you are thinking about suicide, please reach out and ask for help now. Treatment works, and mental health professionals are trained to know how to help you get your life back. Be on the lookout for:
- Worsening depression – unrelenting low mood, hopelessness, withdrawal, anxiety and inner tension, pessimism, sleep problems or desperation
- Preoccupation with death
- Increased alcohol and/or other drug use
- Recent impulsiveness and taking unnecessary risks
- Threatening suicide or expressing a strong wish to die
- Suddenly happier, calmer
- Unexpected rage or anger
- Making a plan
- Giving away prized possessions
- Unusual visiting or calling friends/ loved ones
- Sudden or impulsive purchase of a firearm
- Obtaining other means of killing oneself such as poisons or medications
- Preparing to leave family & friends behind
If you recognize these signs in yourself or in a friend, please take action. Reach out to a professional right away by clicking on the button below or texting 741741. Then ask a trusted adult in your life for help, someone who can help you explore treatment options that will help you get through this.