Health Watch -- Signs of Depression

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Do you know how to spot depression?

A big sign is a depressed mood that persists most of the time for at least a two-week period. Along with this you might notice a loss of interest in things you otherwise would have enjoyed. People with depression also might gain or lose significant amounts of weight, have trouble sleeping or sleep too much and have trouble concentrating or making decisions. They may have feelings of worthlessness or guilt and think about death or suicide.

Psychiatrists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say that while a blue mood may make some people lose their appetites, other people may eat more because they turn to food as a comfort. Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, a UT Southwestern psychiatrist, says that atypical depression is marked by weight gain.

If you catch yourself eating more or gaining weight, try to determine why you're eating, if you're eating to make yourself feel better or less anxious. Then try to find something else to do to boost your mood. Exercise can really help - play outdoors with your kids, go dancing or take a walk with a friend.

If you don't start to feel better after a couple of weeks, then talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.