If the onset of depression always seems to surprise you, here are seven signs that your mood is headed south.
#1 Withdrawing from social interaction
Regardless of whether you are naturally introverted or extroverted, if you find yourself struggling to socialize, bipolar depression could be on the horizon. Make note of ‘red flag’ behaviors such as not returning calls or texts, canceling regular activities with friends, or even altering your daily routine to avoid social interaction at the grocery store or mall.
#2 Impaired memory
One of the hallmark symptoms of bipolar depression is the presence of cognitive-based symptoms. As such, small impairments in memory—misplacing things, struggling to remember your daily to-do list—may be indicative of a downswing into bipolar depression.
#3 Daily tasks seem to take more energy than usual
Bipolar depression is notorious for its energy-zapping prowess—referred to as psychomotor impairment. Be on the lookout for times when you find daily tasks, such as brushing your teeth or cooking breakfast, feel overwhelmingly (and uncharacteristically) difficult.
#4 Unexpected feelings of guilt:
It is not uncommon for those entering a depressive episode to feel immense guilt, even over the mundane. If you find yourself feeling guilty over situations not within your control, take note and seek support—remember, it’s just the depression talking.
#5 Difficulty concentrating:
Although this is a common symptom experienced periodically by many with bipolar disorder, those experiencing bipolar depression may experience this much more frequently. It’s not uncommon for those slipping into a bipolar depression to have ‘hazy,’ incomplete thoughts, and an inability to think clearly.
#6 Irritability and uncharacteristic angry outbursts:
If you find yourself irritated, or even angry, in unremarkable situations, you may be on the cusp of bipolar depression.
#7 Changes in sleeping patterns:
Pay special attention to small changes in your sleep patterns; research has found that people with bipolar I depression are more likely to experience hypersomnia—trouble staying awake during the day or prolonged nighttime sleep—and people with bipolar II depression are more likely to experience insomnia.
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