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While we all have feelings of sadness, or feeling down from time to time, it’s important to know yourself, and recognize when a “case of the blues” might actually be clinical depression. Depression is a medical illness that can be treated very effectively with multiple treatment options – but early detection and diagnosis is the first step. And it’s a myth that depression always shows up as extreme sadness and crying. While that can happen, a host of different symptoms can occur.
Here are the kinds of symptoms you should never ignore, and if any of them persist for longer than two weeks, reach out for help. You’ll be glad you did!
-Persistent low mood, almost every day
-Difficulty eating and sleeping – either too much or too little
-Lack of interest in daily activities you normally enjoy
-Excessive sense of hopelessness
-Lack of mental focus and difficulty concentrating
-Feeling very “slow” or very agitated
All of these symptoms can reflect changes in brain chemistry and result in these unwanted behaviors. That’s why you may need psychological and medical intervention, rather than trying to “will the symptoms away.”
While a family history is a strong predictor for depression, other factors like stressors at home or work or traumatic life events, can also contribute. And while specific brain chemistry changes are varied, there are treatments. They include both talk and medication options along with introducing healthy lifestyle habits. Together, they can help effectively treat and manage depression.
Living with depression should never become the “new normal.” Help is out there when you need it.
And watch this video to learn more about depression and recognizing the symptoms.
Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD is NBC News Health Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.