How to Spot the Early Signs of Depression

Mental health issues are said to affect 1 in 5 Americans every year, and 1 in 3 over a lifetime. Forms of depression are among the most common mental health conditions. However, whether it is short term, reactive depression, or things like post-partum depression and persistent depressive disorder (when depression lasts for over 2 years), people are afraid to speak out when they have a problem. It’s often hard to recognize the signs of depression, as it’s not talked about as much as it should be, and so a common response is “just cheer up.” It’s important to recognize that depression is so much more than just feeling sad. Here are some warning signs to look out for, in yourself, and your loved ones.

Loss of Enthusiasm

This is often one of the most obvious signs that it’s more than just sadness. A loss of enthusiasm or interest in things you once enjoyed is often a symptom of depression. This can be anything from no longer wanting to take part in a hobby, to not wanting to spend time with friends. A loss of sex drive is also incredibly common when you are depressed.


Insomnia can accompany depression. Over thinking, worrying about the day ahead, or panicking about not getting enough sleep can keep you awake long into the night, even if you are physically exhausted. Or on the other hand, someone with depression may sleep for longer than usual, and wake still feeling fatigued.


Both loss of appetite and over eating are symptoms of depression. Eating disorders are also very common, so look out for any signs of behavioral changes around food.

Aches and Pains

Symptoms of depression can sometimes be physical. You may feel constant aches and pains, get mouth ulcers, headaches or stomach aches. Our bodies all react differently to emotional stresses and a lack of sleep, so keep an eye out for any unexplained aches and pains.

Short Attention Span

Those with depression can find it hard to concentrate, even on simple things like reading a book, or watching a TV show. Your mind might wander, and you’ll find you’ve totally lost what’s going on. This can be accompanied by feelings of restlessness and irritability, not being able to settle on a task, or not understanding instructions.

Negative Mood

You might find that as well as feeling unhappy, you also have feelings of worthlessness and low self-confidence. You could feel like you aren’t good enough, and that people shouldn’t waste their time on you, or that you need to be alone, as to not force your presence on others. This can lead to feelings of guilt. You might also feel a tremendous sadness, and not be able to explain why.

If you are worried about any of these symptoms, it’s important to do something about it. Acting as soon as you spot the early signs of depression can make a huge difference. If you are worried about a friend or family member, try to speak to them, or seek advice from a professional about what you should do. Just try to be there for them, without pressuring them to talk. Be a friend.

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