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5 Ways to Tell if You Have Depression

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Depression is something almost all of us experience throughout our lives. There are different ‘variations’, from medical or clinical depression to a general feeling of sadness that is as conventional as a common cold, but depression in all its forms can lead to overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despondency.  

As we are all different and have varying emotional responses to situations, depression has a number of causes. Grief, conflict, loneliness, failure (perceived or real), guilt, being under extreme and/or constant pressure and stress, accidents, major life events, and, particularly in the case of clinical depression, physical and biological factors, can all cause us to feel down at any time.  

There are a few warning signs of depression that you may be able to recognise in yourself or someone you’re close to. They include:

1. Negative self-talk

This includes any form of talking to yourself or speaking out loud that is negative and self-demeaning. Sometimes we speak more harshly to ourselves than we do to our worst enemies, and it’s important to be aware of our mindsets. If you hear yourself saying things like, ‘nobody cares about me’, ‘life just sucks’ or ‘I just don’t want to get out of bed anymore’, don’t be afraid to dig deeper to discover the underlying reason as to why you feel that way.

2. Changes in Behaviour

People struggling with depression usually display changes in behaviour. This could include anything from withdrawing from their friends/family, being easily offended or angered, forgetting to or choosing not to do simple tasks of responsibility (e.g. cooking dinner or having a shower), or being constantly emotional.

3. Changes in Sleep and Eating Patterns

Depression can affect our sleep and what we eat. Depending on the level of depression, someone suffering from it may virtually stop eating, thereby triggering weight-loss, or begin to eat excessively and gain weight. Another may find it hard to sleep at all (insomnia), or sleep excessively. All of these put a strain on the body – making it too tired, too run-down or too physically sick to function properly. This only adds to the problem of depression.

4. Change in Appearance

Someone with depression will often change in the way they look, usually because they no longer care much about how they appear. For example, they may not shower, use deodorant, brush their teeth or change their clothes when dirty, or they may even adopt a complete style change that is out of character.  

5. Change in Risk-Taking

Whether true or not, many people with depression feel that no one really cares for them. As they may also have a strong need to escape the pain, depressed people may engage in more risk-taking activities than normal, including driving dangerously, taking drugs or self-harming. Depending on the person, this can either be a cry for help, a way of taking their mind off things, or both.

Do You Have Depression?

If you think you may be suffering from depression, clinical or otherwise, don’t be afraid to seek help. There are some great resources around, including Beyond Blue and Headspace (for youth). You can also see your GP to talk more about it, or visit a counsellor for one-on-one support.