Depression is a devastating condition that can take over your entire life. It is easily one of the most misunderstood conditions that affect our mental and physical health. Depression is more than just feeling sad. It is not just the blues. It is the result of a complex interaction between the chemicals and the brain. Depression can affect sleeping, eating, working, relationships – in fact, it can affect all aspects of your life.
Depression will affect close to10% of the population at one point or another in their lives. That’s about 19 million people in the United States alone. About 80% to 90% of those who seek treatment for depression feel better within two to three weeks, and continue with their lives. Unfortunately, about two thirds of those suffering from depression never seek treatment for a variety of reasons.
One of the biggest reasons that people fail to seek treatment for depression is that they fail to recognize the symptoms, or even to realize that anything is wrong. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression can literally save your life or the life of a family member. These are the top five warning signs that someone you know may be suffering from depression.
1. Decreased interest in activities that were previously enjoyed
This is a symptom of depression that is often overlooked or misinterpreted. A person who is suffering from depression loses interest in activities that they have previously enjoyed. They may stop attending meetings or drop out of clubs to which they have belonged for years. If questioned, they will often simply say that they’ve lost interest, or don’t enjoy the activity any longer. Associates and friends often don’t recognize this as a symptom of depression, and may even feel hurt or angry with their friend for the slight.
Interestingly, recent research suggests that social contact stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain that help stabilize moods and produce happy feelings. It’s one of the reasons that social activities are often part of the recommended treatment for depression.
2. A change in eating habits
Those suffering from depression will often change their eating habits. There are many reasons for this change, and not all apply in all cases. A depressed person may feel that it is too much trouble to bother with eating at all. Food may lose its appeal entirely, or they may turn to snack and junk foods because they require less effort to prepare. In turn, those who are depressed may show marked increases or decreases in weight.