I was having a conversation with an acquaintance G a couple of weeks ago. G was complaining about a lot of things going wrong in his/her life and his/her lack of interest in anything these days. I said, "are you sure you're not depressed?" It was supposed to be a joke but then G got serious and said "maybe" *Pause* *deep breath* "but nothing I can't get over". I couldn't stop thinking about G.
Psychology was one of my undergraduate courses and even after studying it for years, I didn't realize how close to home it could come till G said "maybe" to me.
Apparently, there are 121 depressed individuals worldwide on any given day(20 million in America alone). In the Nigerian culture, it is almost unheard of to be clinically "depressed". No one talks about it. Its seen as an "oyibo" problem. People commit suicide and its a taboo to discuss why.
In light of that, I thought to share with you today 10 common early depression symptoms. If you notice a combination of any of these symptoms in your life, please talk to someone close to you or seek professional help. Its always better to admit the existence of these symptoms early....the earlier you recognize it, the easier treatment will be for you. So...here they are...
1. Fatigue or Lack of Energy: Feeling less energetic is normal especially after a long day or strenuous activity but if the fatigue lingers and is accompanied by decreased motivation or interest in daily life, it may be an early sign of depression.
2. Insomnia: If your quality of sleep and/or ability to fall asleep changes drastically, it should be a cause of concern to you. Sometimes lack of sleep is triggered by stress or an earlier long nap but absent a specific trigger or if it is prolonged, an abnormal sleep pattern may be an early sign of depression.
3. Sleeping Too Much: In the same way, too much sleeping (more than either hours every night) could be a symptom of depression especially if its accompanied by a lack of interest in getting up, and/or a mood that is low/sad.
4. Changes in Appetite and Weight: Generally, if overeating or loss of appetite is prolonged (more than two weeks) and is coupled with loss of interest in pleasurable activity, it could be an early sign of depression.
5. Physical Pain: If you notice you have unexplainable abdominal pain, untreatable headaches, and prolonged aches and pains, doctors have said it may be part of a depressive episode.
6. Colors or Music Appear Dull: This is a surprising symptom but research has shown that another early sign of depression is a view of the world as void of color and sound. Pay attention to your perception of colors and your disinterest in music. It may be an early sign of depression.
7. Burnout at Work: Anyone who does the same thing for a prolonged period of time is likely to feel bored after a while. Its normal to feel burned out when faced with a challenging assignment or period. For example, for lawyers it is the days preceding a big trial and for accountants, its during tax season, etc. But if the burn-out feeling lingers in the absence of such a trigger, is long-term or on a regular basis, it may be an early sign of depression.
8. Memory Problems: If you notice your ability to focus is deteriorating over time, it could be an early sign. Cognitive impairment in depression is called pesudodementia. As they say in Pidgin, no be small matter o.
9. Social Withdrawal: This is one of the most important symptoms of depression, according to doctors. If you find yourself withdrawing from normal activities and social interactions, you may be clinically depressed. If there is any chance that your depression would make you suicidal, there's a greater tendency that the attempt will happen when you're alone. This explains why so many suicide attempts go unnoticed and unstopped.
10. Unexplained Sadness: If you notice you're feeling sad, pay attention to determine its intensity, duration and (lack of) cause. If you feel so sad your heart seems to be on your feet, for a long time, and you can''t seem to track subsequent stressors, then it is an early symptom of depression.
There you have it. Please Please Please, if you notice you have a combination of any number of these symptoms, talk to someone close to you or more importantly, a profession. Depression is real and the more you ignore it, the more life threatening it becomes.
If there is one person to whom you owe the truth, it is to yourself. So if you notice any of these symptoms, please do the right thing and tell yourself the truth. It is an illness that not only affects your life (literally), it also affects that of those who love you.
hear your cries. Happiness is a conscious choice only you can make. Make that choice by paying attention to your feelings.