Everyone feels down at times. But an unhappy period that’s intense or lasts for more than a couple of weeks can be a sign of depression.
Depression is a serious illness and is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. In fact, most people with depression need a form of treatment to get better. Depression can limit someone’s ability to carry out major life activities and it can disrupt the lives of family and friends.
Someone around you could be silently suffering from depression and if you think they may be depressed, find out what you can do to help. The following signs may indicate you or your loved one, friend or family member is suffering from depression:
- Feel unhappy, sad, or miserable nearly every day
- Feel helpless, hopeless, or worthless
- Lose interest in hobbies, friends, and activities that used to give pleasure
- Don’t sleep well or sleep too much
- Gain or lose weight
- Are constantly tired or have low energy
- Have a hard time concentrating or making decisions
- Lose interest in sex
- Have physical symptoms, such as stomachaches, headaches, or backaches
Traditionally, the minimum duration of persistent symptoms for major depression is two weeks and for chronic depression (or dysthymia) two years.
Don’t Ignore the Serious Signals
It’s important to never ignore your own thoughts or someone’s comments about suicide or behaviors that can lead to self-harm. If you notice any of these warning signs, get help right away:
- Threats or talk of suicide
- Statements such as “I won’t be a problem much longer” or “Nothing matters”
- Giving away possessions or making a will or funeral arrangements
- Buying a gun or other weapon
- Sudden, unexplained cheerfulness or calm after a period of depression
Seek help by calling a health care professional, mental health clinic, or suicide hotline and ask what action to take. In an emergency, call 911.
Additional Resources for Help
- National Institutes of Mental Health, 866-615-6464, nimh.nih.gov
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, 800-950-6264, nami.org
- Mental Health America, 800-969-6642, mentalhealthamerica.net
- National Suicide Hotline, 800-784-2433 (800-SUICIDE)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK)
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.
*Source: National Institutes of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov
*Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov