Top 3 Signs of Early Depression

By Carly Fleming, M.Ed. RP
Registered Psychotherapist


When clients come to see me for depression counselling, I often observe that they are in what I call early depression. These are folks who just aren’t feeling quite right. Their lives are functioning reasonably well and for those looking in on them, things look pretty good. But inside they are feeling kind of dark. Life just doesn’t have it’s usual brightness. There’s a sense of going through the motions and not being able to experience life to it’s fullest. If this describes you, you may be experiencing early depression.

Here are my top 3 warning signs for early depression to keep an eye out for:

1) An inability to motivate yourself to do the things you KNOW will help you.

When we are doing well emotionally, we can easily access the part of our brain that motivates us to do things that help us stay well (for example, going to the gym, keeping a journal, going out for coffee with a friend). But when our mood starts to take a dip, often this motivation disappears. It can be frustrating when helpful friends, family or professionals say "just take some time for yourself and you'll feel better". We KNOW what will make us feel better. We just have a hard time doing it.

2) The negative stories in our head get louder.

When we begin to feel depressed we have a harder time tuning into positive perspectives. We pay closer attention to the stories that we tell ourselves that result in negative thinking. For example, on a good day when the receptionist at work doesn't look up when I say hello, I might assume she's having a bad day and not think anything more about it. But when depression is starting to set in, I might wonder if there's something I did to make her mad or assume that she just doesn't like me.  Even if we can notice that we are thinking negatively, we have a hard time shifting to more positive perspectives. 

3) Needing more sleep than usual.

If you're getting the same amount of sleep as usual and yet you feel lethargic and sleepy, this can be a sign of early depression (it can also be a sign of other things so please consult your doctor if this persists). Depression is exhausting mentally and physically and often the first thing we notice is that we are tired more than usual. 


Of course there are many more than 3 signs of early depression and it varies from person to person. But by seeking out counselling for depression in this early stage, you can learn tools and perspectives that will prevent it from getting worse. Ideally, you will work with your counsellor past the point of trying to stop it from getting worse and will move towards major improvements in your mood, thinking and physical well being. We have many therapists on our team who would be pleased to work with you through your struggles with early depression and into the life you want to live!