Calling the year 2020 ‘challenging’ is the understatement of the century. Trying to navigate the stress of everyday life is difficult enough without the added angst brought on by a global pandemic, bi-coastal unemployment, race wars & rampant riots [both in our streets and on our social media]; all the while one of the most pivotal presidential elections of our lifetime shifts our country towards an entirely new trajectory. Just reading all of that brings an uncomfortable tightness to the chest (Wait…isn't that a symptom of COVID-19!??).
But the toll that this year has taken on the mental health of American’s is absolutely staggering. Over 25% of young adults ages 18-24 say they’ve contemplated suicide as a result of the pandemic; with nearly 11% of adults saying they had considered committing suicide within the last 30 days. According to studies done by Forbes, 132 American’s die by suicide every day. Astonishingly, 90% of the suicide victims reported this year had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. What is happening to America’s minds?
Recognizing the signs of depression is the single best thing we can do to combat it. While things can certainly range between individuals, here are 10 signs to watch out for:
A persistent feeling of sadness. Everyone will get sad from time to time, that’s not what we’re referring to. The sadness that accompanies depression is a sadness that consumes the individual. When someone has depression they feel sad concurrently for a long period of time; often having trouble pinpointing the cause for their sadness.
Feeling helpless or hopeless. Depression causes a warped mindset that can hijack a normal thought process. When a healthy mind is feeling low, a happy thought can generally return the mind to a positive place. When someone has depression, the illness blocks positive thoughts from altering their perception of the situation. This overwhelming hopelessness is often the symptom that triggers suicidal ideations.
Sleep changes. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain which, in turn, can alter the sleep patterns and behaviors of an individual. Sleep patterns are nearly 100% derived from chemical activities so, if one's chemicals are imbalanced, it can cause insomnia, oversleeping, or generalized sporadic sleep cycles.
Feeling angry. Another token sign of a chemical imbalance is being uncharacteristically angry. Those suffering from depression can often be very quick to anger, have a very short fuse, or become exceptionally irritable.
Loss of energy. Sadness, hopelessness, erratic sleep patterns, and chemical imbalances can all lead to lower energy levels. Depression can incite overwhelming sleepiness, which will naturally alter a person's behavior.
Self-loathing. This is one of the harder signs to notice in someone else, but it’s definitely something to watch out for in yourself. If you find your self-talk becoming markedly negative or detestable, certainly take note and put a stop to it immediately. If you would not say it to a friend, do not allow your mind to say it to you.
Reckless behavior. The helplessness combined with the chemical imbalance leads people with depression to act in reckless or impulsive ways. Depression is often an underlying factor in cases of substance abuse, compulsive gambling or shopping, excessive spending habits, or uncharacteristic cases of shoplifting.
Concentration issues. Many people with depression have trouble maintaining focus on tasks, work, or school. They can also struggle with making decisions and remembering things.
Unexplainable aches & pains. The brain is a powerful mechanism that can literally imagine that pain exists in areas where there is no physical reason for pain. Many people with depression have unexplainable headaches, backaches, stomach aches, and generalized muscle aches.
This article is not intended to diagnose any condition but was written to help others recognize the potential onset of depression in themselves or in others. If you have been suffering from negative thoughts, or think that you may have symptoms of depression, please seek guidance from a doctor or therapist as soon as possible. Depression has a nasty way of sneaking up on people and can quickly cause thought distortions that could prevent you from getting appropriate help.
Depression is not a catch-phrase or buzzword, it is a serious condition that can have lethal consequences.
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