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Recognizing Depression

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders worldwide, affecting more than 264 million people of all ages around the world (according to the World Health Organization). If you have never suffered from depression, it may be hard to recognize when others are depressed. It's important to understand exactly what depression is and how to tell when someone is depressed.

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by a persistent depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. It negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems that can decrease one's ability to function at work and at home. The symptoms of depression can vary from mild to severe and can include the following:

- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood

- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

- Change in appetite - either weight loss or gain

- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

- Loss of energy or increased fatigue

- Feeling worthless or guilty

- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions

- Feeling helpless and hopeless

- Anger or irritability

- Expresses a negative outlook on life

- Self-loathing

- Unexplained aches and pains

- Reckless behavior (i.e. drinking too much, abusing drugs, participating in risky activities)

- Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms can vary from person to person, but these are some of the most common. The more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they last - the more likely it is that you are suffering from depression.

For me, depression would attack my mind, it made me think that no one cared about me or liked me. I would start to think that my friends weren't really my friends at all and none of them really even liked me. I lost my appetite, had trouble sleeping and staying asleep if I ever did fall asleep. It's hard to convince yourself that it is just the depression making you feel this way, but once you can recognize that, it makes it a lot easier to fight it.

Once you have recognized that someone you love may be struggling with depression, it is important to respond in an appropriate way. See "How to Be There for Someone with Depression" for tips on helping someone with depression.

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