The Warning Signs Of Depression (You’ll Want Right Now)
Depression is a crippling disease that affects people indiscriminately across all demographics. In 2016 alone, an estimated 16.2 million Americans experienced at least one depressive episode within the past year. This number becomes even more shocking when considering that this constitutes nearly 6.7% of the country’s population. Depression is a disease that goes hand in hand with the human experience, and manifests itself without boundary across cultures.
Depression can be brought on by many different catalysts, but it helps to know that the symptoms are often fairly consistent. Below, this article will explore the diagnostics of depression, and offer some ways to prevent it from unraveling your life.
Loss Of Interest
One of the hallmarks of depression is a loss of interest, notably in respect to things you used to enjoy. If you notice that taking a walk in the park or socializing with friends no longer appeals to you in the way in once did, this could be an indicator that depression is rearing its head.
The subjectively lowered ability to experience pleasure is known in clinical terms as “anhedonia”, and can be understood neurologically as the aberrant functioning of the brain’s reward system. The exact cause of this dysfunction is different from person to person but is often associated with a decreased sensitivity to dopamine, an important neurotransmitter associated with reward. Studies suggest this can be brought on by conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, but also substance use.
Whether addiction causes depression or vice versa is up for debate and almost definitely differs on a subjective basis. Nonetheless, there is a strong association between the two. Drugs of abuse act on the same brain regions responsible for mood, hence their appeal. In essence, they deliver an intense reward without the need to put in any effort besides procuring the substance. Likewise, self-administration of abusive drugs can theoretically manifest as a desire to escape from pain or anguish in waking life. Although it brings momentary relief, drug use tends to lead individuals down a primrose path to far greater misery than when they began.
To people who use drugs and have noticed feelings of depression, the good news is that getting clean from drugs will alleviate the situation. Admission to a treatment facility will offer an individual a golden opportunity to rid themselves of substance abuse and give their brain chemistry a chance to normalize. This will restore a sense of peace and well-being.
Don’t Underestimate Technology Use
Smartphone use represents an unprecedented situation as far as the human experience as a whole. Current users of smartphones and other technology are in many ways guinea pigs in the generations-wide trial to see how these innovations are affecting us physically. Time is revealing that these inventions are indeed associated with some unfavorable consequences, with depression among them.
Things like internet addiction act on overlapping parts of the brain in much the same way that drugs of abuse do. One trademark way that both affect the brain is in the form of dopaminergic bursts, which increases in lockstep with prolonged use.
There is a case to be made that we were not evolutionarily prepared for the endless and nonsubstantive novelty that smartphones and high-speed internet provide to us with the ease of a few keystrokes.
Sleep Problems or Increased Fatigue
Being tired all the time or experiencing profoundly diminished energy levels is common in people with major depressive disorder. It is often accompanied by apathy or emotional disturbance. This can also mean feeling overwhelmed by simple tasks, incessant boredom, or an aversion to effort.
In regard to sleep and depression, yet another “chicken or the egg” scenario presents itself: poor sleep quality and depression tend to occur together. The solution might be as simple as taking steps to improve your sleep quality.
If you are exposed to screens before bed on a regular basis, this is something worthy of attention and intervention. Increasingly more people are becoming aware of the deleterious effects of artificial light on sleep. It has been known for decades that light suppresses melatonin secretion, a chemical that is integral to the maintenance of the body’s internal clock. Consider shutting off all artificial lights a couple hours before going to bed.
For a temporary fix, you may want to consider taking melatonin before bed, but as is the case with taking many chemicals that are already produced by the body endogenously, you may be setting yourself up for a reliance. For this reason, it is advised that you get your body to start producing its own melatonin naturally as opposed to requiring melatonin pills indefinitely.
Restlessness or persistent uneasiness in your own skin can be a sign of depression. If you are experiencing nervousness that goes unabated for extended periods of time, it is likely something you should address.
Consider reconnecting with friends and family or looking into a therapist and discussing how you feel. Merely speaking about something that is bothering you can help you understand and process what might be bothering you. Many times, a little bit of introspection reveals the source of what is bothering us.