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Depression five signs you might have it

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that up to 19 million Americans may suffer from depression. Although it is much more common in women, with an estimated 10% to 25% becoming depressed at some point in their lives, men also may suffer from clinical depression.  Depression, however, doesn’t just affect individuals personally in their own relationships with their family and friends; it also takes a toll on the United States job market.

And although depression and mental health in general has gotten more attention in recent years, there is some mystery on detecting it and how to recognize it before it is too late. Experts do note, however, that ignorance and denial are two of the worst things you can do, noting the first step for many people is the recognition that something is truly wrong and they may not be able to solve the problem on their own.

So how do you know if you are depressed? The signs may not be obvious to everyone, but here are just a few:

1. Self-medicating

Self-medicating either with alcohol, drugs or sex may be the first sign that something is wrong.  “Alcohol is the anesthesia by which we endure the operation of life,” said Bernard Shaw, and this is especially true for those who need to mask the emotional pain of their life.  Self-medicating isn’t just done with alcohol. Many people may also start to engage in risky sexual behavior to numb the pain. If you find you’ve traded serial monogamy for seducing any partner, there is a good chance there may some deeper issues.

2. You feel increasingly numb

This can also be described as a lack of interest in anything. If you find yourself uninvolved, skipping social events or disengaging from friends, it may be time to talk to a doctor.

3. You feel increasingly sad and worthless

Hopelessness, sadness or the inability to connect with anyone can be very destructive. If you have lost sight of your value and your accomplishments it’s time to talk to someone and find support.

4. Sleeping too little or too much

It’s difficult to say which comes first, but when I interview individuals with depression they all talk about their inability to sleep or sleeping too much. Sleeping issues can be related to anxiety and accompanying intrusive thoughts, and healthy sleep cycles are critical to maintaining good health.

5. Unintentional weight gain or weight loss

Eating too much or too little is common for those who are mired in a negative state. If you have gained an excessive amount of weight it may be due to eating additional comfort foods to create a consistent, good feeling. Others avoid physical exercise when they are depressed, which may contribute to their weight gain. Regardless, it’s time to talk to a doctor and rule out any underlying health issues.

Getting a diagnosis for depression

The first step to treating depression is getting a diagnosis. A proper diagnosis by a physician or psychiatrist must include a thorough physical exam to rule out illnesses that mimic depression such as thyroid disorders, diabetes and cancer. After your condition is identified your doctor can put together a plan to fight your condition.
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