What are the signs of depression? Find out what happens in the early stages of depression so you can do something before it manifests.
I thought I would write a post on the signs of depression and how we can better identify when depression is knocking on the door. Of course I am sure many of us know what the signs of someone being depressed are – but what about the stages before they are fully depressed. There may be events in life that dramatically change someone’s life with the result sending them from happy instantly to depressed (potentially the death of a family member etc), but in the world we live in today, too many of us are depressed for trivial reasons and go on with life without ever really knowing that we are depressed and not taking any real action to beat it.
Recently I noticed some of the signs of depression in myself and I took action on making the right changes to get things back on track. I know some of you will gasp that this is something bad, but again this is part of what we need to change in society. Identifying early signs of depression and beating them early is something that I now see as a great thing. It also helps you realise if you are still being true to your values and living the life you want to live. For me this is totally cool, especially because I identified some of the signs and made the right changes. But a lot of people don’t notice the changes and allow for things to manifest before it’s too late and depression has set in. So here are a few signs of depression (or upcoming depression) from my experiences, that you can now use as a warning sign to say ‘hey, this is a sign, I know that I need to do something about this now’ and make the change. Just like the gas light in our car telling us that we are nearly empty and we need more fuel, we can use these signs as something positive, a tool to help us, instead of something that we chose to ignore and allow to potentially get worse – I mean we all know what happens if we ignore the fuel light and keep driving and this is not something we want!
Your moods or mindset have changed
This sign is a challenge to identify because we don’t often look at our lives from the outside in. We spend so much time living day to day that we don’t have time to sit and look into how we are actually feeling. Was I happy today? Did I have a positive mindset? How Was I feeling throughout the day? Was I snappy with someone for no reason? These are all questions that we often never have time to ask ourselves, but sometimes we need to check in with ourselves and see how we are feeling. In my own life I noticed that I was becoming a little more moody and snappy with people. I noticed I wasn’t my usual cheeky self. I was still okay, but I wasn’t great. Now remember this doesn’t mean that I was depressed, but like the other signs these are ways you can identify a potential depression early and make the change before depression sets in. Being able to notice that your mood is changing is an early warning sign that you can greatly use to your advantage. You can next ask yourself ‘why is my mood changing’ or ‘why is my mindset different’ and start working on the changes you may need to make.
You are spending too much time in one particular area of your life
This is what I believe is the biggest sign of an upcoming depression, standing out in the middle of the night with big flashing lights. Take note! For most people it is usually one of three things that they then throw all of their time into – 1. Work 2. Sport / hobby or 3. Their partner. Now with work usually you can get away with this one because your boss is happy with all the extra hours and you might be happy with the extra money or job satisfaction. But what is the price? Maybe it is that you are left feeling stressed and by spending less time in the other areas of your life and the balance falls out of whack pretty quickly resulting in a downward spiral to depression. How many people have you heard of that are really good at their job but are not happy? Or they get divorced because they put all their effort into their career and not their family life. Similarly for those that throw themselves into their sport or a hobby. At first this can be seen just as them ‘being passionate’, however again this will result in their life balance falling out of whack pretty quickly. It may be their personal relationships, their work, or their finances that fall out of balance, again leading to that downward spiral. Finally there are those that put everything into their relationship. This happens because they feel the warmth, safety and security of their partner which comforts them back into happiness. Note that this could also be with a family member as well – it could be your parents, your siblings or someone else. Whilst I will generalise again, this can be one of the worst things to do because besides the balance falling out, and other relationships with other friends and family deteriorating, your importance on this person grows, and you become dependent on them. I don’t know how this works but there must be a sixth sense where the partner realises that you are so dependent on them, dedicating all your happiness to them, and unfortunately as humans we don’t like this and your partner will want out. We want a relationship with someone that has a life and doesn’t just want to hinge off our own happiness and count on every little thing that we do. Unfortunately even if the partner does support you during this period of extra attention, eventually it will lead to a deterioration either of your independence, your relationship, or your other areas in your life.
With the above signs we can recognise pretty quickly if there is an area that we are spending way more time then we should be. Personally I don’t have a partner, and my hobbies are great but not enough to throw my life into, so I ended up putting way more time into my work then I needed to. The thing about work is that in a lot of people’s cases, you could literally work all day and night and still not get it all done. So ultimately putting in too much time at work because there is a lot to do is not an excuse. I noticed that I was giving up the balance in other areas of my life just because I seen my work as a safety net – something in my life that I had relative control over and if I put in extra time there, then things would seem better. Again I quickly realised that this needed to change, which is great because I made the changes I needed to make right away and got back on with my balanced life.
You are more emotional
The fact is that when you are starting to feel depressed, your emotions, or emotive responses will be on high alert. Someone will say or do something not to your liking and you will take it to heart. Or something will go wrong and it will feel like you have been hit by a truck. Or you might find it hard to brush something off. The easiest way to explain this one is to compare yourself to when you are feeling awesome and on top of the world. If you are feeling great and something goes wrong or someone does something against you, usually you can brush it off pretty easily – but when things are not looking or feeling the greatest it has a much larger effect on your emotions. In my own life recently I had a few things go wrong and have a negative impact on my happiness. Usually I would go back to showing gratitude for what I have got (my must read post!) – But in this case I just became emotional. Again this is another sign that you need to check in with yourself and see what emotions are most prominent in your life and why. Find time to write them down and write reasons why you are feeling this way to help bring them to the surface.
You are spending less time being ‘social’
This is another massive sign that depression is on the way. Are you still seeing your friends? Are you going out to the same level you usually do? Are you leaving these events early or going home unnecessarily early? Are you saying that you are ‘busy’ too often to attend? These are all the early signs of depression setting in. When we are depressed we feel insecure and unhappy with ourselves and we don’t want the rest of the world to see. We want to stay within the comfort and safety of our own home without having to see the rest of the world. I know all too well how this one works. At first you have a few excuses as to why you can’t make certain events, but soon you are looking for reasons why you can’t see your friends and then it snowballs from there. What have you noticed in yourself that may relate to this sign of depression? Make sure you subscribe to the blog (the form is on this page!) because my next post will have some awesome tips that have worked for me to help overcome this warning sign of depression.
You are becoming lazy in a particular area of your life
Another sign that depression is around the corner is you becoming lazy. It might be not getting your hair done as regularly, or not grooming yourself as well, or not cleaning the dishes as often, or leaving the house a mess, or turning up to work late, or slacking off at work, or not going to gym, or putting off that task you ‘have to do’. Either way you have become lazy in some area of your life which is an early sign that you have lost or are losing motivation, or inspiration, resulting in you subconsciously (or consciously) thinking ‘what’s the point’ to some of these tasks. Sometimes being lazy is good for a day or two (I am looking to do it more often!). But if you realise that you have become lazy for a week or more, I would say that this is an indicator that something is not right.
Your diet or health has changed – and not in a good way!
Oh I am guilty of this one haha. Most of the time I have a very balanced, healthy diet (I do have one cheat day a week to eat whatever I like to help keep my sanity!), however I noticed that my diet was slipping away. Now I know that not everyone is on a diet, but you know what I mean. Just like I was, you might be snacking on extra chocolate, having that extra desert, ordering Uber Eats way too often… Either way this deteriorating diet is your mind wanting to get that instant, extra hit of happiness, no matter how small. Unfortunately the thing to remember is that even though this seems like it is making you happy in the short term, in the long term it makes you worse as your body feels the effects of the poor diet. I’m sure you’ve heard it before but your body is like a car and whatever fuel you put in it is what performance you are getting out of it. And no this is not just physical performance, but mental. More and more research is starting to show how diet has a massive impact on our mental performance and emotions so take this into account when you reach for the extra chocolate just before bed time!
With your health there could be a range of things going on. You might notice that you have a cold, or feeling tired, or feeling lethargic, low on energy, stiff neck, headaches or just feeling blah! All of these things are a sign of an upcoming depression and need to be taken care of. The strength of the connection between mind and body is way stronger than what a lot of people believe. Understand that your body may have some of these niggles due to your mental health and it is a sign that something needs to change.
What have you noticed in your diet or health that may be a sign of depression? Is your poor diet or health related to the sign about being lazy? What can we do to help ourselves in this area?
Those were the Signs. Please subscribe for the next post – how to SMASH depression
UPDATE – The post is up. Click here to find out how to SMASH Depression!
So those were some of the signs of depression that I have seen in myself and others. Maybe you have some of your own signs that you notice in yourself? I know that you will want to know more on HOW to use these early signs to help you beat depression before it manifests… So my next post is going to discuss how we can beat depression while it is in its early stages, making it is much easier to tackle. Make sure you have subscribed by entering your email into the sign up form (on this page) and you will get an email when the post is up!
About the author – Stef – Positive Living and Mental Health Advocate
Stef is a positive living and mental health advocate who dedicates much of his free time to improving his own and others mental health. Never miss a post and subscribe to the blog by popping your email into the form on this page. Click here to have a read about Stef’s story and why he is so passionate about mental health, wellness and positive living.