Depression is a common, though sometimes very serious, mental health condition. Depression affects approximately 9.5% of American adults of the age of 18.
While feeling sad is a perfectly normal human emotion, a persistent and bleak feeling that persists or defies reality can signal depression. In this article we list some of the common symptoms of depression to look out for, explore what it really feels like – and what kind of treatments are available.
Keep in mind that this is for informational purposes only. Online reading should not substitute a visit with your doctor or specialist if you think you may be suffering from depression.
Symptoms of Depression
While depression can present differently in everybody, there are a few common symptoms to look out for that can signal clinical depression. If you are experiencing a couple of these or more it may be time to think about contacting somebody to help you look into the matter further.
Feeling Hopeless – Feeling totally lost or helpless, like nothing matters or will ever get better is a telltale sign of clinical depression. These thoughts and feelings lead to some of the other symptoms like losing interest in day-to-day activities and things that you enjoy. It’s difficult to enjoy anything when it feels like you will remain sad and bleak forever. Fortunately, this is not the case, and with treatment, you can and will feel better and lead a fulfilling life. More on that later.
Loss of Interest – Losing interest in things you once very much enjoyed – a hobby like music or sports, your faith, or socializing with friends. These can all be characteristic of depression or other mental health conditions and should be taken seriously. Losing interest in your life is a major blow to your fulfillment and quality of life.
Appetite Changes – Overeating and undereating. Doing so to the tune of 5% body weight change over the period of a month can be another indicator of depression. People may fall into a habit of overeating to ‘fill the void’, or alternatively simply lose their appetite and interest in eating, along with other day-to-day activities.
Sleep Irregularities – As with appetite changes any major, sudden and prolonged sleeping habits can signal that a person may be suffering from depression. Insomnia and the inability to fall asleep are equally as telling as oversleeping or constantly waking up in the early hours of the morning.
Energy Loss – It can be a bit of a ‘chicken-or-the-egg question when wondering if depression causes the energy loss or the change in sleep patterns. Ultimately, most people who are suffering from depression are going to be looking at not just 1 acute symptom but a group of them. Often following sleep irregularities comes energy loss. It can be a slippery slope as this leaves the person suffering from less fortitude to deal with their daily activities, which they may not be interested in anyways. The symptoms of depression can self-perpetuate, with poor sleep leading to energy loss, loss of interest and hope.
Anger – Depression has been described as feeling like a wet blanket of misery that envelops you. It can be very difficult to find the patience that both life and people often test. As such, anger and irritability are often associated symptoms of depression.
Self-Hatred – If you don’t realize that you are suffering from depression it is very common for the frustration to turn inwards. Conversely, Depression can also start with being harsh towards yourself and manifest outwards. Feelings of inadequacy, shame, and guilt can all contribute to self-loathing and depression.
Risk-taking Behavior – One response that the body has to deal with pain is to numb it. This is also true mentally, but this can contribute to the bleak outlook of depression. Sometimes in a bid to escape this pain and numbness people engage in high-risk activities that they would never normally partake in. Activities such as driving recklessly, trying to start a fight or taking any kind of dangerous risk all count as risk-taking behaviors. Sometimes this can look like drug use. These are not only a sign of mental health crisis but are very serious as they can result in injury or death.
Problems Focusing – The feeling of depression can make it extremely difficult to think, concentrate or focus. This has a bearing on decision-making as well, which can have untold repercussions on your life when adversely affected.
Aches and Pains – It’s not uncommon for mental anguish to manifest as physical pains. Unexplained and recurring headaches from tension or tightness – backaches, stomach pains, and more can all be a sign of mental distress from depression.
Am I Depressed?
Depression can feel like you are carrying around an immense weight – and in a sense, it’s because you are. The sensations we interpret mentally have repercussions on our bodies.
The tightness and tension that a person holds in their body day in and day out coupled with the exhaustion of sleepless nights or far too early mornings wears. It can feel like a sense of doom or as mentioned above a wet blanket smothering your whole existence.
Needless to say, it is not a pleasant sensation that can be expected to accompany depression. That is why it is imperative that if you or a loved one is suffering from these symptoms to get some help with managing and overcoming them.
There are many styles of treatment that can help with the symptoms and causes of depression. These causes and symptoms are different for everybody. Some people may experience depression due to a chemical imbalance and simply require medication while others may be suffering as a result of trauma and need to do other forms of therapy.
From cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) or mindfulness. There is a multitude of ways that people have found to help with symptoms of depression. This means that nobody needs to lose hope, no matter how bleak their outlook.