By DarylLast Updated: February 26th, 20237.7 min readViews: 1133
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Depression is a common mental health condition that can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or background. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of depression so that you can recognize when you or someone you love may be experiencing this condition. In this article, we will explore the warning signs of depression, as well as the common symptoms that people with depression may experience.
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“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling.” – J.K. Rowling
Warning Signs of Depression
Depression can be difficult to recognize, especially if you or someone you love is experiencing mild or moderate symptoms. However, there are some warning signs of depression that you should be aware of:
Persistent Sadness or Hopelessness: One of the most common signs of depression is persistent sadness or hopelessness. You may feel down, blue, or sad most of the time, and it may be difficult to shake these feelings.
Loss of Interest or Pleasure in Activities: Another warning sign of depression is a loss of interest or pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy. You may find that you no longer enjoy spending time with friends or family, or that hobbies or activities that used to bring you joy no longer interest you.
Changes in Appetite or Weight: Depression can also cause changes in appetite or weight. You may experience a loss of appetite or weight loss, or you may find that you are eating more than usual and gaining weight.
Sleep Problems: Depression can also affect your sleep patterns. You may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or you may find that you are sleeping more than usual.
Fatigue or Loss of Energy: Another common symptom of depression is fatigue or a loss of energy. You may feel tired all the time, even after getting enough sleep, and you may find that even small tasks require a lot of effort.
Feelings of Worthlessness or Guilt: People with depression may also experience feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You may feel like you are a burden to others, or that you are responsible for things that are out of your control.
Difficulty Concentrating or Making Decisions: Depression can also affect your ability to concentrate or make decisions. You may find that you are easily distracted or that you have trouble making even simple decisions.
Thoughts of Death or Suicide: In severe cases, depression can lead to thoughts of death or suicide. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it’s important to seek help right away.
This one is obvious on the surface level but feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness for most of the day and for weeks at a time are often the result of a bigger issue. These feelings can be from an event or for no reason.
Loss of Interest or Pleasure
The inability to derive pleasure from activities that you use to enjoy as well as expressing little to no interest in is a large component of major depressive disorder. This goes beyond being “out of it”, it’s the unwavering lack of interest for weeks at a time. Being deprived of pleasures or interests can lead to other issues that can compound to major depressive disorder and should be treated.
Feelings of Worthlessness or (Inappropriate) Guilt
A general feeling of worthlessness is often coupled with a sense of guilt that may not have a basis in reality. Guilt is a powerful emotion, and excessive guilt distracts from living a vibrant life. More often than not, this level of guilt is a delusion and a symptom of something ominous.
Diminished Inability to Concentrate and Make Decisions
We need proper focus and decision-making to function well in our society. While it can get overwhelming sometimes, things can be paralyzing and dreadful when someone is suffering from major depressive disorder. The lack of focus and indecisiveness often is accompanied by other symptoms of the list
Fatigue or Loss of Energy
Feeling run down by work and life is one thing, but feeling constantly lethargic without reasons is different. There is a difference between overworking and being tired from doing the minimum to get by.
According to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, widely used as a roadmap to diagnosis, depression can be considered an illness when at least five symptoms occur together for at least two weeks.
Physical Symptoms Of Depression
Major depression is more than a “mind issue”, there are physical symptoms that happen in the body. The following are somatic or body-related symptoms mentioned in the DSM-5 depression criteria.
Depression can cause a variety of physical symptoms, including headaches, digestive problems, and chronic pain.
You may also experience changes in your appetite or weight, as well as fatigue or a lack of energy.
Sleep difficulties – If you’re depressed, you may have insomnia or sleep more than usual. You may have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. Sometimes people with depression wake up very early and can’t go back to bed. Often, especially in young people with depression, people sleep much more than usual.
Changes in appetite or weight – While you’re depressed, you may find that you don’t have much of an appetite for any food. Or you might feel like eating constantly. The same is true for weight gain or weight loss. You may lose or gain weight during the depression. What clues your doctor in that you have depression is that these things are changing.
Poor concentration – Poor concentration happens during the depression because your brain isn’t working as well as it usually does – you might feel like you’re in a fog or haze. You may have a hard time focusing on your work, daily chores, or even leisure activities like watching a movie or reading a book.
Fatigue – The DSM criteria for depression mentions physical fatigue and loss of energy. This includes decreased activity, feeling tired, low energy, decreased endurance, feeling weak, heavy, sluggish, or slow, putting in more effort to do the same physical tasks, or feeling sleepy.
Psychomotor agitation or retardation – This criteria has to do with slowing down or speeding up your physical and emotional reactions. In psychomotor retardation, you may find that you think and move very slowly. In psychomotor agitation, you might feel restless, anxious, irritable, and tense. You may have racing thoughts or be unable to sit still.
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The non-somatic (body) symptoms of depression include emotions and the content of your thoughts. These are non-somatic symptoms of depression described in the DSM-5:
Depressed mood – Depressed mood is about emotion. It’s feeling sad or low.
Anhedonia – This is a loss of pleasure, interest, or enjoyment.
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt – This symptom of depression is present when you feel there’s no worth or value in yourself as a person. Unwarranted feelings of guilt are also common when you’re depressed.
Thoughts of suicide or death – If you think a lot about death or have thoughts of suicide, it’s not only a symptom of depression. You must get help immediately.
How to Get Help for Depression
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to seek help right away. There are many effective treatments available for depression, including therapy and medication.
Here are some steps you can take to get help for depression:
Talk to Your Doctor: Your primary care doctor or a mental health professional can help you determine if you are experiencing depression and recommend appropriate treatments. They may also refer you to a psychiatrist or therapist for further evaluation and treatment.
Therapy: Therapy is a common treatment for depression, and there are many different types of therapy available. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for example, can help you identify negative thought patterns and develop strategies to change them. Other types of therapy, such as interpersonal therapy (IPT) or psychodynamic therapy, can help you explore underlying emotional issues and improve your relationships with others. Online therapy is also a great alternative.
Medication: Antidepressant medications can be effective in treating depression, especially when used in conjunction with therapy. However, it may take several weeks for these medications to take effect, and you may need to try several different medications before finding one that works for you.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that can have a profound impact on your quality of life. By understanding the signs and symptoms of depression, you can get the help you need to manage this condition and improve your overall well-being. If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. With the right treatment, you can manage your symptoms and lead a happy, healthy life.
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