While the collective mental health of the United States took a hit during the pandemic, the reality is that issues like depression were already on the rise. Today, approximately 21 million American adults are diagnosed with major depressive disorder, as well as 3.2% of kids and teens.
One of the drivers of the increase in numbers may be our improved ability to recognize when there’s a problem, as well as the fact that we’re discussing issues like depression more openly.
To both ends, our team of health care providers here at LaSante Health Center, which includes mental and behavioral health experts, wants to outline a few of the more common warning signs of depression.
Whether you suspect that your child might be having trouble with mood regulation or that you may be experiencing depression, here’s what you should know.
Beyond simple sadness
Everyone feels sad from time to time, and the sadness might even last for long periods, such as when there’s grief involved and the person is mourning. But with depression, the sadness is overwhelming, persistent, and impossible to break free from.
This sadness is often accompanied by:
- A feeling of hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Loss of interest in activities that were once found enjoyable
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Increasing isolation
In extreme cases, suicidal ideation, which is thinking about suicide, imagining it, or planning it, can occur.
Our point here is that these depressive symptoms are strong and impossible to ignore or change, unlike simply feeling blue.
Changes in sleep
Changes in sleep patterns also signal depression. Someone with depression may sleep far more than normal or, on the flipside, find sleep difficult. When there's a lack of sleep, this can worsen the depression.
Depression and pain
The connection between depression and physical pain is a two-way street. For example, if you have a condition that leads to chronic pain, your risk for depression is much higher. In fact, one study found that up to 85% of people with chronic pain have depression.
Going in the other direction, unexplained muscle aches and pains aren’t uncommon among those who have major depressive disorder.
Changes in weight
Like sleep and pain, the connection between weight and depression can go in different directions. Some people with depression eat more and gain weight while others are no longer interested in food and lose weight.
The point here is to watch for dramatic changes in weight in either direction.
Depression and kids
If you’re worried about your child, depression can show up a little differently in kids. While you should watch out for the signs we’ve already discussed, pay attention to more subtle ones.
Young kids, for example, may display separation anxiety and not want to be apart from you.
In kids of all ages, performance can slide at school and grades can go down. As well, kids and teens can act out at school and get into trouble.
You should also be on the lookout for signs of self-harm, such as cutting or burning. Adolescents turn to self-harm as a way to release or deal with the intense emotions that come with depression.
The information above is brief, and people can display depression in different ways. For a proper assessment, please contact our Brooklyn, New York, clinic to schedule an appointment with one of our compassionate behavioral health providers.
We serve the Flatbush and East Flatbush, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Little Haiti, Little Caribbean, and Prospect Lefferts Gardens communities.