11 Nov 10 Depression Symptoms to Watch For
If you’re one of the 20 million people in America with depression, you know that it’s not a condition to be taken lightly. It’s important to manage symptoms of depression with therapy and medication as prescribed by your doctor, both to feel better now and to reduce the risk of a depressive episode in the future.
One of the best ways to minimize the physical and emotional damage of an episode of depression is to recognize depression early and take action — which can mean getting back on track with treatment or talking to your doctor about whether your treatment plan needs to be reviewed and revised. But not all symptoms of depression are easy to identify, and the early signs can be different for everyone. Here are some common symptoms you should look for.
Fatigue or Lack of Energy
We all feel less energetic from time to time, so fatigue on its own isn’t necessarily a symptom of depression or a sign of a depressive episode, says Gabriela Cora, MD, managing partner of the Florida Neuroscience Center and a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. “However, if fatigue lingers and is accompanied by low mood and decreased motivation or interest, this lack of energy may be tied to early signs of depression,” she says.
Sleep patterns vary from person to person, so the best way to tell if sleep disturbance is a symptom of recurrent depression is to try to remember how you slept before your depression was well managed. If you slept poorly at that time and are sleeping less now, then this might be a sign of a depressive episode for you. “If you’ve already experienced depression in the past, you want to be sure to address any sleep disturbance that’s different from before,” Dr. Cora says. “It may not be a problem if you can’t sleep well for a couple of nights, particularly if you’re experiencing a lot of stress. But in the absence of a specific trigger, you should watch out for any sleep changes that differ from your normal sleep pattern.”
Sleeping Too Much
It’s also possible to get too much of a good thing, and sleeping too much could be a symptom of depression. Cora says that even for people who are managing depression, the magic number is still eight hours of shuteye. “In general, sleeping more than eight hours every night may not be as healthy,” she says. “If you oversleep and experience a mood that’s low or sad, this may indicate depression.”
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