Depression is a common mental illness that can easily be treated. Often times the person suffering from major depressive disorder is in denial that they have a problem and feel that they are just sad. Unlike a bout of sadness, major depressive disorder affects every aspect of your life and it isn’t something that will go away on its own.
Disclosure: Please contact your health care provider or go to the nearest emergency room if you are struggling with untreated depression and need help.
Even though you may experience depression from time to time, people who suffer from major depressive disorder exhibit ongoing symptoms that have lasted longer than two weeks. Of course, most people don’t realize that they are even depressed until a family member or friend points it out. While other times, a major problem, such as a job loss, will arise before a person may realize that they might have a problem.
Here are the common signs and symptoms of depression:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
These symptoms can range from mild to severe. If you or loved one has any of the following symptoms for two weeks or more, please encourage them to seek help. So many tragic accidents and suicides can be avoided. Continue reading to learn why untreated depression is bad for your health.
When you are depressed, you are more likely to participate in risky behaviors that you normally wouldn’t do. There are numerous types of risky behaviors but here are a few that you are likely to see.
- alcohol abuse
- using illegal drugs
- overdosing on otc or prescription medications
- sexual relationships or jumping from relationship to relationship
- eating disorders such as binge eating, overeating, or not eating at all
- dangerous driving or road rage
Untreated depression can cause undo stress on your relationships especially with a spouse or significant other. When depression strikes, it starts changing your perception and distorts your way of thinking. This change starts causing difficulty in our otherwise healthy relationships. So if you have noticed an unusual change in your relationships, please seek help or encourage someone else to get help. Here is a list of changes to look for:
- withdrawing from close relationships
- lack of affection or interest in sex
- no motivation or energy to participate in things they are interested in or with other’s
- sleeping too much
- binge eating or major weight gain in a short period of time
- extreme weight loss and not eating regular meals
- concentration issues
- feeling hopeless
- can’t handle rejection or criticism
Everyone struggles with sleeping problems from time to time whether it be insomnia or feeling so tired that you feel like you could sleep forever. While not all sleep problems are caused by untreated depression, there is a common link between depression and sleep disorders and it is quite complex. Without ample amounts or too much sleep, our bodies can’t function optimally.
Some sleep disorders can point to other health problems, it is important for you to be honest with your doctor or counselor to explain your symptoms. Your doctor will determine the right treatment for you. The treatments can range from medication, dietary changes, exercise, elimination caffeine, and alcohol, adjusting the sleep habits, counseling, or a combination of these methods.
It Causes Abnormalities in the Brain
As we have already seen above in the symptom list, untreated depression starts to change our behaviors and thinking. But it is the cognitive problems that are a cause for concern for researchers. According to MRI’s performed on patients who have suffered from untreated depression, researchers saw shrinkage in certain areas of the brain. The areas of the brain that are affected include hippocampus, anterior cingulate, and prefrontal cortex.
Signs of Neurological Disorders
The abnormalities in the brain can manifest into bigger problems if the patient doesn’t seek help for depression. In recent years there has been more research and studies done to track people who showed signs of depression vs those who didn’t have it.
Ignoring your depression can lead to long-term neurological areas including Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, amnesia, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, ADHD, autism, memory issues, and dementia. Medication and therapy can help restore the chemicals in the brain and help reduce your chances of developing potential neurological disorders.
Angry All the Time
From time to time we all get angry. However, having frequent bouts of grumpiness or being angry all the time is a problem. If you aren’t an angry person, there might be an underlying issue like untreated depression that is making you irritable. Seek advice from your doctor or health care provider if you feel that your anger is linked to depression.
Next time you find your temper boiling try counting slowly from 1 to 100 if necessary. This will allow you to think before you say something that you will regret. If you do speak out in anger, don’t be afraid to apologize or attempt to make the situation right.
Missing work or school may become a problem for someone who is depressed. As mentioned above, often times depressed people have trouble sleeping at night. Staying up late at night due to insomnia can cause you to oversleep and miss getting to work on time, or even worse miss the entire day. Please seek immediate help before your frequent absences result in disciplinary action or job loss.
Poor Work Performance
Depressed people often times have trouble concentrating, making decisions, and completing tasks at work or school. Unusual work performance issues can stem from several underlying issues including anxiety and depression. Getting help when you notice the symptoms can help turn around your poor work performance.
Cutting or burning is the most popular form of self-harm that people do to their body. However, any form of self-mutilation is a form of non-suicidal behavior. So if you see someone self-harming themselves, please get them help immediately.
It is usually a cry for help or attention even though they are not consciously trying to commit suicide. Instead, self-harm is done for the adrenaline rush. It is a means to try to relieve emotional pain or solve an emotional problem.
Suicidal Thoughts or Attempts
Untreated depression can cause suicidal thoughts or even a suicide attempt. People who are suicidal should be taken seriously and need immediate help. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or the deaf hotline at 800-799-4889.
Often times the person who is considering suicide, will often start making comments about being better off dead because they see it as the only way out of their problems. You might begin to see them making preparations to end their life ie getting a gun, experiment with drugs, give away their possessions. If someone confides in you about their plans, please listen to them and seek help from a trained professional. Never brush off their threats even if you don’t think they are serious.
Untreated depression can have serious consequences including potential suicide. If you know someone who is struggling with untreated depression, do you best to persuade them to seek help. Any person who is a threat to themselves or another person, please contact 911 immediately.