If you’re one of the estimated 121 million people who suffer from some form of depression,   you know that it’s not a condition to be taken lightly. One of the best ways to minimize the physical and emotional damage of an episode of depression is to recognize signs of depression early and take action.  But not all symptoms of depression are easy to identify, and the early warning signs of severe depression can be different for everyone.

Recognizing Signs of Depression

Here are some common symptoms of severe depression you should look for :

Fatigue or Lack of Energy : We all feel less energetic from time to time, so fatigue on its own isn’t necessarily a symptom of depression or a sign of a depressive disorder. However, if you are feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained  accompanied by low mood and decreased motivation or interest, this lack of energy may be tied to early signs of depression.

Recognizing the signs of depression

Recognizing the signs of depression

Sleep changes : Sleep patterns vary from to person, so the best way to tell if either insomnia, (especially waking in the early hours of the morning) , or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia) is a symptom of recurrent depression is to try to remember how you slept before your depression was well managed.            If you slept poorly at that time and are sleeping less now, then this might be a sign of a depressive episode for you. If you’ve already experienced depression in the past, you want to be sure to address any sleep disturbance that’s different from before.

Appetite or weight changes : We all tend to overeat or feel loss of appetite from time to time. However, if it’s coupled with other symptoms, such as feeling depressed or losing interest and pleasure in usual or favorite activities for two weeks or more, it could be a warning sign of severe depression, according to Simon Rego, PsyD, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. A weight gain of at least 5 percent of a person’s total body weight in a short period of time (approximately a month) that causes significant distress may be considered as a part of depression.

Unexplained aches and pains : Physical pain might be a surprising symptom of depression  disorder. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain that don’t seem to go away could be early signs of depression.

Social withdrawal : “ Social withdrawal is one of the most important symptoms of depression,” says James Overholser, PhD, professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University in h3Cleveland, Ohio. “When people feel depressed, they tend to withdraw from normal activities and social interactions,” he says. “Furthermore, if a person becomes suicidal, there’s a greater risk that a suicide attempt would go unnoticed and potentially unstopped. I advise many people to fight hard against the tendency for social withdrawal when feeling depressed.”

Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. If you’re feeling sad, there are three things that determine whether or not it could be linked to depression — intensity, duration, and cause, or more specifically lack of cause  A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.

Recognizing these signs of depression is the best ways to minimize the physical and emotional damage of an  recurrent episode of depression.