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Sometimes do you see someone with that vacant stare and wonder what‘s going on in their head?  Do you ask or do you just avoid the subject?  Or are you the person who feels like the walls are closing in around you.  You may be suffering from depression.

According to an article in BlackDoctor.org, challenging emotions can arise in any situation, from work to relationships. Everyone has good days and bad days — even good years and bad years — but you should be concerned when the signs of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or bipolar disorder seriously interfere with your ability to function. 

4 Signs of Clinical Depression

“You determine clinical depression by two measures. One is by time and one is by severity — impact on function. When you have severe symptoms that last at least two weeks and are interfering with fundamental basic functions, it falls into the realm of clinical depression,” explains psychiatrist Jill RachBeisel, MD, associate professor of psychiatry of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

There are many symptoms of depression, but most common among people with clinical depression are changes in:

Appetite. “In clinical depression you lose your appetite completely, and you stop eating, or you eat very little,” says Dr. RachBeisel.

Sleep. When clinical depression sets in, you may have consistent, severe insomnia and be unable to sleep well almost every night.

The Ability To Concentrate. “Someone might find themselves unable to maintain focus on simple activities like watching a TV program or reading a newspaper article,” says RachBeisel. You may not be able to focus on a recipe for dinner or tasks at work.

Reduced Energy Level. “With severe clinical depression your energy is so low you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or carrying through your basic activities of daily living. People find themselves lying in bed and staying in pajamas all day long,” RachBeisel explains. This may mean that you no longer care about shaving or styling your hair, for example, or about bigger issues, like caring for your children.

At its most severe, clinical depression can lead to suicide. Having thoughts like “My family would be better off without me” is a warning sign.

Signs of Anxiety

“We all should have a little anxiety at times because, when you think about it, one of the things that helps us perform really well is the tendency to get a little anxious,” says RachBeisel. There are, however, signs that you may need help controlling an anxiety level that’s just not healthy:

No Focus. You can’t follow a conversation or complete a basic task.

Social Fear. You can’t or won’t interact with other people; for example, you avoid using public transportation, attending social events, even leaving your home. You find yourself avoiding family gatherings or office parties due to social anxiety.

Problems At Work. You may also avoid projects that require public speaking, such as work presentations.

Paranoia. You worry that in a crowded room people are looking at you or talking about you.

Signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is on the extreme end of the anxiety spectrum.

“People with OCD are so anxious, they have intrusive thoughts that are irrational, and they can’t get the thoughts out of their head. So what they do is develop behaviors to cope with the anxiety,” says RachBeisel. These behaviors or rituals may be so time-consuming that you can’t get to work, or anywhere, on time, and may even prevent you from working. For example, you may:

Wash your hands 20 to 30 times a day or spend hours bathing. 
Count 15 cars before you can park.
Spend hours checking the door and window locks before going to bed.
Repeat work tasks multiple times to make sure they are perfect.

Signs of Bipolar Disorder

“A person with bipolar disorder is someone who has severe mood swings,” says RachBeisel. During the depressed phase, the signs of clinical depression appear, but people with bipolar disorder also experience a manic phase during which they may have a lot of energy and positive feelings about themselves. Signs of mania are:

Mood Swings. Examples are elevated mood or extreme irritability. An overly high estimation of themselves leads to commitments they can’t possibly keep, such as taking on jobs they don’t have the skills to do.

Fast Speech. “You can’t get a word in edgewise and you have to ask them to slow down,” says RachBeisel.

No Need For Sleep. People with bipolar disorder may stay up all night for many days cleaning, painting walls, or doing laundry.

Excessive behaviors. Charging tens of thousands of dollars or having sex with casual acquaintances are just two examples.

For more information on how to Get Help For A Mental Illness, visit blackdoctor.org.