Prodromes of Depression
The term prodrome derives from the Greek prodromos meaning ‘ahead of'. In medicine it refers to a symptom or set of symptoms that precede the main symptoms of an illness. In relation to the onset of depression some prodromes are common while others are unique to the individual; this combination is sometimes referred to as a ‘relapse signature'.
Recognizing your own relapse signature comes with time and experience. The most common prodromes of depression tend to involve loss of interest or motivation to do things, disrupted sleep, worry and a general sense of feeling sad. The knock-on effect is a noticeable reduction in activities (work and social) less focus and less concentration on issues at hand.
Individual prodromes are the things you or perhaps your partner or friends see in you. Perhaps you change your clothes less frequently or select colors that are darker? Maybe you start to moan more about politicians, the state of the world, or your favorite sports team, or maybe you become quieter? Perhaps you normally read a book before going to sleep but now you go to bed earlier just to try and sleep?
Again, time and experience is central. At first you may mistake a bad day as prodromes of depression, but you may simply be tired from working hard. With mood states consistency is much more significant. You will also find greater difficulty in forming associations between the way you feel with particular issues or events.
Catching depression early can help prevent both its duration and intensity. Some people find they benefit from keeping a daily mood chart. This may help if you are uncertain about the consistency of behaviors and emotions and helps serve as a reminder of things to watch out for.