Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms: What Are the Warning Signs?
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Depression isn’t always visible and it’s different for everyone. Since sadness is a basic human emotion, it’s not easy to differentiate when you’re feeling down after a negative life change or disappointment as opposed to dealing with a serious mental health disorder. But by recognizing the warning signs, you can get a jump start on your mental health journey and work toward a happier future.

Major depressive disorder symptoms aren’t as cut and dry as they may seem. Not only can everyone experience brief stints of depressive symptoms during rough times, but the symptoms can also be confused for other mental health disorders, which could lead to a misdiagnosis. So what are the warning signs to be aware of? That’s what we’re here to answer.

Read on to learn about major depressive disorder, the symptoms that serve as warning signs and what to do if you’re experiencing them. 

What is major depressive disorder?

Let’s start off with the basics. Major depressive disorder, usually known as depression, is a mood disorder that causes overwhelming and persistent negative feelings. The pervasive feelings of sadness and malaise can interfere with every facet of your life, from your productivity at work to maintaining important relationships with those around you. 

Mood disorders are prevalent in approximately 20% of the U.S. population at any given time. Major depressive disorder in particular is prevalent in about 7.1% of U.S. adults, which adds up to more than 17 million affected adults.

Major depressive disorder symptoms that are warning signs 

Recognizing warning signs for potentially bad or harmful situations can give you the chance to prevent it from worsening. In the world of health care, the warning signs of an issue are symptoms that could lead to an important diagnosis and treatment options. That means that being aware of the major depressive disorder symptoms that serve as warning signs can help you get the help you need before the symptoms become more severe.

Here are some of the most common major depressive disorder symptoms:

  • Pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness or malaise
  • Feeling a lack of motivation or energy
  • Inability to find enjoyment from activities
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Increased irritability
  • Social isolation
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches, including headaches and stomach aches
  • Thoughts of death or dying

What to do if you’re experiencing major depressive disorder symptoms 

Temporarily experiencing a symptom of depression shouldn’t be taken as a warning sign of the disorder, especially if you’re dealing with situations that are objectively difficult, such as a death in the family or losing a job. But if that symptom worsens, lingers for an extended period of time or occurs simultaneously with others on the list, then it’s time to take action.

It’s not always easy to recognize negative emotions, thoughts and behaviors in ourselves that could be signs of major depressive disorder. Consider taking this major depressive disorder quiz. It provides a variety of benefits, including:

  • Self-awareness of negative emotions, thoughts and emotions
  • Providing insight and validation to how you’re feeling
  • Analyzing the severity of your symptoms
  • Looking at your feelings and thoughts with a different perspective
  • Determining how your symptoms align with DSM-5 criteria for major depressive disorder

It’s important to remember that if you’re experiencing mental distress, you should book an appointment with a mental health provider. If the quiz indicates that you have major depressive disorder symptoms, a provider can do a complete assessment for a formal diagnosis. 

If the quiz shows that you’re not exhibiting depression symptoms, therapy can still help you navigate the situations and feelings that led you to taking the quiz.

Lightfully Behavioral Health can help manage major depressive disorder symptoms 

When you’re experiencing major depressive disorder symptoms, it’s important to be proactive. By recognizing the warning signs and taking the next steps in your mental health journey, you’re taking control of your negative emotions so that you can learn to manage them and decrease their impact on your everyday life.

When you’re ready to decrease your major depressive disorder symptoms, we have multiple levels of care that can help, including: Residential Treatment, Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP), Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also called our Day Treatment Program.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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