10 Signs Of Depression That Mean You Should See A Doctor

Feeling blue every now and then is a normal part of life. However, if you're drowning in a sea of relentless sadness or hopelessness that prevents you from keeping up with your regular daily routine, it's cause for concern. Unrelenting sadness or hopelessness is a telltale sign of clinical depression, which will affect approximately 7% of adults, according to National Institute of Mental Health.

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Even if you're experiencing overwhelming sadness or hopelessness, it can be challenging to know if you have clinical depression because nearly all the symptoms of clinical depression are experienced by themselves from time to time.

If you experience four or more of these symptoms every day for at least a two-week period of time and they affect the way in which you typically function (e.g., interfering with your work, causing you to isolate from family and friends, or affecting your ability to concentrate on schoolwork), it's recommended that you talk with your doctor.

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1. You're Experiencing Unexplained Aches and Pains

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Thomas says that emotional pain can show up as physical pain in your body, such as headaches, neck and back pain, stomach problems, and nausea. If you're experiencing a chronic problem in your body that cannot be attributed to another cause, talk to your doctor about it. It may be a sign of depression.

2. You're Anxious

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Overwhelming feelings of anxiety are most often associated with an anxiety disorder, but they can also be a sign of clinical depression. Anxiety is more than the apprehension we feel when difficulties arise, its obsessive thoughts and a persistent feeling of panic. Anxiety can show up as physical symptoms, such as excessive sweating, fast heartbeat, and sleep difficulties.

3. You Feel Worthless

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Depression can lead you to feel worthless and constantly putting yourself down. Negative thoughts about yourself are dangerous because they can lead you to harm yourself. Feeling extreme guilt over things that you're not completely responsible for, such as a sudden job loss or a breakup, is another sign of clinical depression.

4. Concentration and Focusing Difficulties

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Are you forgetting deadlines or appointments? Depression can affect your decision-making skills and memory. This can result in you taking unhealthy risks or making poor decisions.

5. Changes in Your Sleep Pattern

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Depression can make you feel tired all the time, which can lead to some people sleeping more than usual. Sleep can also be a refuge from the sadness a person feels when she is depressed. Other people with depression experience interrupted or restless sleep or insomnia.

These people are often wired with ruminations or obsessive thoughts, which cause them difficulty in winding down to get enough sleep each night. When you're not getting an appropriate amount of sleep, your internal clock gets thrown off, leaving you feeling even more fatigued.

6. Lack of Energy

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A lack of energy may be the result of sleeping too much or not eating enough. However, it's also caused by dealing with unrelenting sadness or hopelessness. Coping with constant emotional pain saps your energy, leaving you too tired to do daily tasks, not to mention meeting work and family demands. You may even feel too fatigued to get out of bed and have a shower. When this occurs, it's time to reach out for help.

7. You're Preoccupied with Thoughts of Death

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Constant thoughts about death in general, about taking your own life, how family and friends would respond if you committed suicide, and contemplating different ways to take your life are a clear indication that it's time to talk to your doctor about how you're feeling. If you experience these thoughts daily or nearly every day for two weeks, it's essential to reach out for help, even if you don't see any other signs of depression in yourself.

8. You Don't Enjoy Things That Used to Make You Happy

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Perhaps you used to love going for a nightly walk, but lately, you haven't been able to get motivated to take a stroll. Or, maybe you used to enjoy going to happy hour on Fridays with some coworkers, but you've skipped the last few weeks. Not participating in activities that used to bring you joy because you no longer find them pleasurable is a telltale sign of clinical depression.

This may result in a vicious cycle. Depression makes you apathetic toward activities that once brought you joy so you stop doing the things that could bring you happiness.

9. Little Things Agitate You

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Heightened irritability is a symptom of depression few people recognize. You might feel crabby, and little things that typically wouldn't bother you set you off. You may start snapping at your family, friends, or coworkers. 

Depression exacerbates normal hormonal swings, which can leave you feeling irritable. Feeling cranky could also be triggered by the fact that you're dealing with so many heavy emotions. Thomas says that when you're in physical pain, you tend to get angry. The same is true with psychological pain. You don't feel like your normal self, which drains your patience and puts you on edge.

10. Changes in Eating Habits

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Depression can manifest itself as a loss of appetite. You may be so preoccupied with negative thoughts that you forget to eat. You may also lose interest in preparing or cooking meals for yourself. On the contrary, depression can increase your appetite, leading you to overeat.

Yvonne Thomas, PhD, a psychologist based in Los Angeles, specializing in self-esteem and depression states, “The mix of emotions that tend to accompany depression – sadness, pessimism about the future, and low self-esteem – can compel you to try to soothe your feelings with food binges.”

What do you think about the signs of depression? Have you seen them in yourself or someone you love? Let us know in the comments and pass this along to your family and loved ones so they can know when it's more than just a case of the blues, too.