Dr. Maninderpal Dhillon Discusses How to Spot the Signs of Depression
Depression is more than just feeling sad; it’s an inescapable, unmanageable sensation of emptiness, hopelessness, and loneliness. While at least 17.3 million adults (more than 7%) in the United States will experience at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime, the exact symptoms, warning signs, and treatment methods vary greatly from person to person.
According to psychiatrist Dr. Maninderpal Dhillon, no two individuals experience depression in the same way — this can make identifying symptoms and pursuing treatment a challenge. If you believe you (or someone you love) may be experiencing depression, any combination of these indicators may be present.
Eating too much or too little
For many, food is a source of comfort during hard times; one which they turn to when feeling depressed and hopeless. In contrast, others report experiencing appetite loss and difficulty eating due to depression. In either case, these excessive eating habits can cause nutritional imbalances and dramatic shifts in an individual’s weight, which may further the depressive state by causing health problems and a lack of self-esteem.
Irregular sleep patterns
Researchers agree that mental health and sleep quality are intimately linked. According to Dr. Maninderpal Dhillon, a lack of sleep (or too much of it) may be both an indicator of depression, and an instigator of it. If you are consistently having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or getting out of bed in the morning, it may be a sign of depression.
Alcohol and drug use
Often, those experiencing depression will turn to substance abuse (such as alcohol or other drugs) to temporarily quell their negative feelings and escape. Dr. Maninderpal Dhillon highlights that mood disorders and drug use have been so closely linked, that the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports 1 in 5 people who experience anxiety and/or depression will also battle an alcohol or substance abuse problem.
Chronic exhaustion, no matter how much you’ve slept, is another common symptom of clinical depression. Although it’s true that depression symptoms are highly unique from one individual to the next, researchers state that most all individuals experiencing depression report excessive feelings of fatigue.
Unfortunately, the extending consequences of chronic exhaustion are incredibly widespread. Fatigue may also impact your day-to-day mood, job performance, social life, physical health, and relationships, making it one of the most prominent symptoms of the disorder.
Loss of interest
Depressed individuals may find a general loss of interest in their day-to-day life, most notably in things they once enjoyed. A video game, movie, or favorite activity that once brought excitement to them may no longer hold its zeal. As a result, depressed individuals are known for withdrawing from social engagements, quitting extracurriculars, and declining invitations from friends.
The mental self and physical self are one in the same — that’s why those experiencing depression will often notice that the disorder is accompanied by physical pain. In addition to the emotional and mental symptoms, physical symptoms such as the following are quite common:
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Digestive problems
- Joint pain
- Neck pain
- Jaw tension
Additionally, studies show that those who are depressed are also proven more likely to develop conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
If you’re unsure, seek help
If you’re experiencing any (or all) of the symptoms and you believe you may be depressed, it’s likely time to see a mental health professional. As highlighted by Dr. Maninderpal Dhillon, you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. During an appointment, a trained professional will talk with you about your symptoms, explore your options and outline a plan of action. When it comes to seeking help, sooner is always better.