Depression is a serious and common mental illness that adversely affects the way you feel, how you behave and how you think. Fortunately, it’s also treatable. Depression symptoms may range from mild to severe and may include: feeling down and helpless. Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities. Sleep disturbances.
Serious depression is diagnosed if the following symptoms are present: depressed mood most of the time, persistent thoughts of death or suicide, lack of concentration, decreased pleasure from work (and possible decrease in income), and if the condition is ongoing for at least two weeks. Mild depression is diagnosed if the following symptoms are present: depressed mood less than half the time, fatigue more than twice a week for a month or longer, changes in appetite (too little or too much), changes in sleep (too little or too much), changes in sex (again, too little or too much), and if the condition is continuing for at least two weeks.
However, even if the symptoms are present, depression is not necessarily diagnosed. Depression is best diagnosed by using a checklist developed by the American Psychological Association called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM).
The list of symptoms used in diagnosing can be confusing. Many people falsely believe that if they have one or more of these symptoms that they definitely have depression. They do NOT have depression! The symptoms are only indicative of depression, and not conclusive proof that depression exists.
Here are some of the most common symptoms for the more common types of depression. If someone is sad, most of the time, this is NOT necessarily sad mood disorder. Someone who rarely has sadness may still be depressed, but they would have less severe mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and dysthymia. Someone who feels sad all the time and is unproductive may have major depressive disorder.
Bad moods are normal — nobody’s happy all the time. But clinical depression and dysthymia — what psychologists call persistent depressive disorder, or PDD — can wear many different faces, lasting for weeks or months at a time.
1. You’re tired all the time
People with clinical depression can experience unusual levels of fatigue. Dr Anne Cappola, an expert in endocrinology at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, says this particular symptom is tricky because of how many different kinds of fatigue there are.
“There’s physical fatigue, but also emotional fatigue and psychological fatigue,” Cappola explained to Prevention. “People underestimate the effects of psychological stress on energy levels, but in retrospect, after that stress is gone, they realise that was making them so tired.”
If you’re still sleeping seven to nine hours a night, but can’t get through the day without wanting to take a nap, you may want to chat with your doctor.
2. Your weight has gone up — or down
When things get bad, people take comfort in food — or seek control by limiting the amount of food they eat. The compulsion to overeat during depression may also be linked to finding ways to feel pleasure — something that’s not easy to come by when you’re down, says Dr James Gordon, a psychiatrist.
“Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content, make you feel better, if only briefly,” Gordon told WebMD. “That good feeling makes you want to eat more, which in turn makes you feel bad about yourself,” he added. “It’s a vicious cycle.”
3. You’re not sleeping right
Both depression and anxiety can make it difficult to get shut-eye — and not sleeping a full seven to nine hours per night can worsen symptoms of it.
If your sleep is disrupted or you have trouble falling asleep regularly over a long period of time, this may be a sign. Make it a point to raise the issue with your doctor. While a sleep disorder doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from it, the two are commonly linked.
4. It’s hard to pay attention
Whether you’re at work or home, words slip right past you, and you find yourself wondering what your boss or your spouse just asked you to do.
“I describe as a form of reversible brain failure,” Dr Norman Sussman explained to Health. “When you’re depressed, it’s like your CPU [central processing unit] isn’t working properly.”
5. Your body aches
Aches and pains aren’t uncommon — especially as you age. But if you feel persistent aches over a long period of time, this could be a sign of it.
“If you have stomach pain and there’s an ulcer, that’s an explanation for it,” Dr. Robert Keeley explained to WebMD.
“But often, physical ills occur for no apparent reason — and it could be a likely cause,” he added. “Yet unless they are specifically screened for depression, it’s hard for some doctors to pick up that it may be depression, especially in the primary care setting.”
It turns out that even when patients who experience physical symptoms are struggling with , they may benefit more from talk therapy — even if antidepressants would work just as well.
6. You snap at people
Irritability is a common sign of depression. It not only strains relationships with friends and loved ones, but it affects the relationship a person struggling with depression has with themselves, too.
“People who suffer with depression often have intense ‘critical inner voices’ that perpetuate feelings of unworthiness and shame,” explains Dr Lisa Firestone at Psychology Today.
“When they listen to this inner critic, they not only feel more depressed, but they also find it much more difficult to stand up to their depression,” she adds.
7. You’re anxious
Racing thoughts? Worrying about what others think about you? Symptoms of anxiety can go hand in hand with symptoms of depression.
Have both an anxiety disorder as well as depression is extremely common. Learn more about how the two are related — and how to check your own symptoms — at Health Direct.
8. You’re drinking too much
It’s normal to want to unwind after a tough day at work, but it’s not normal to down multiple drinks every night to try and keep tough emotions at bay.
Research shows that depression and alcoholism are linked — and drinking too much can make depression worse by preventing anti-depressants from doing their work.
“[Though] one drink can take the edge off, a second or third can amplify negative emotions — anger, aggressiveness, anxiety, and greater sadness,” explains Aviva Patz at Prevention.
9. It’s hard to make decisions
Often the decisions we make in adulthood are on autopilot. A bill is due? Time to pay. Your fridge is empty? Time to head to the grocery store.
These seemingly simple decisions get more difficult for those with depression, says Dr Ian Cook, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California-Los Angeles.
“I can’t count the number of people who have said, ‘I had money in the bank but the phone got shut off because I couldn’t bring myself to [pay the bill] or decide what to do and when,’” Dr. Cook explained to Health. “It gets overwhelming.”
10. You let your appearance go
When you’re doing just fine, it’s easy to have a morning routine before work or school. Get up, shower, head to the office. Repeat.
But when you’re depressed, even simple acts of hygiene and self-care become difficult, says Simon Rego, the director of psychology training for the Montefiore Medical Center in the U.S.
“It’s a spectrum,” Rego told Prevention. “Neglecting your physical wellbeing and appearance is only problematic when it crosses over into distress or dysfunction.”
While it’s never easy to talk to someone about their appearance when they’re struggling, it’s still a sign of depression friends and family should watch for.
People with depression who do not receive treatment may eventually develop severe complications such as pulmonary disease or heart failure. They may also lose their employment, experience changes in their eating habits, and may become disabled. This debilitating illness needs to be given attention and treated before it causes more serious complications. If you or someone you know may be suffering from symptoms of depression, seek help immediately.
by Team Coach