Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression.
Depression is a very popular term when people describe their current mood. But there is a bit of confusion – what is a difference between a temporary state of mood or reaction to some life event and a true medical condition?
Depression hurts pretty badly. Many people can’t pursue their career or personal goals due to depression. Depression can affect self-esteem, ruin relationships, significantly change the lifestyle, or even cause death.
While some people describe depression as a low mood, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men, in particular, can feel angry and restless.
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms (emotional, physical, behavioural, and cognitive).
Depression is not just a temporary change of mood. It is a medical condition, and it is as real as many other health issues.
Depression (as other mood disorders) is a noticeably different condition compared to how the person felt before.
Finally, the symptoms of depression are causing a significant level of distress and may cause impairment. This means that the person may have difficulties with going to their usual daily activities.
Let's explore the types of symptoms associated with depression.
Sometimes people tell me: "I feel really down (or sad) for no particular reason. Nothing happened, but I am not enjoying the activities I used to enjoy. There is no pleasure in all hobbies I used to do. Everything seems to be dull and grey. Sometimes I just feel ‘nothing’."
At the same time, depressed people often share that they feel unworthy and guilty, helpless, or hopeless. Some people share that they feel anger or irritability (and this is very common for teenagers that are depressed). At times this emotional state is accompanied by negative thoughts about suicide.
Commonly, people with depression complain about chronic fatigue and lack of energy. This level of energy may be very low even after sleep or rest.
Depression may make one feel as if everything is slowed down – slowed speech, thinking, and body movements; increased pauses before answering; lower speech volume, inflection, amount or variety of content, or muteness may accompany depression.
At times people suffering from depression are also experiencing various pains – headaches, joint pain, stomach pain, and other pains. Typically, some people feel a specific pain in the chest when they are depressed.
Sleep is also often inconsistent when the person is fighting depression. In some cases, people wake up in the early hours, and cannot get back to sleep. Others experience excessive sleep.
Additionally, there is often a weight change during the depression. Some people tend to gain weight, others lose weight without dieting.
It might be extremely hard to concentrate or think when suffering from depression. This may result in academic difficulties and work performance.
Overall, a person with depression often sees themselves, the world, and the future from a negative perspective.
People with depression often feel a lack of interest in participating in activities and tend to self-isolate.
This may increase the sense of loneliness, isolation, negative perceptions.
It is fairly common that people with depression lose appetite, or instead eat a lot. Some people also may drink more, or "dive in" video games or social media.
Overall, symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.
Also, medical conditions (e.g. thyroid problems, a brain tumor, or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
If you need more information – watch this video from World Health Organization about depression:
Remember: depression is not a sign of weakness or laziness. People of all age groups, socio-economic classes, and backgrounds may experience depression.
Fortunately, there are different evidence-based treatment options available, including counselling, mindfulness-based meditation, medical treatment etc. It may need time and effort to overcome a depressive episode, but this is worth doing it.
No matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. By understanding the cause of your depression and recognizing the different symptoms and types of depression, you can take the first steps to feel better and overcoming the problem.
If you are concerned about your mood and overall well-being, or if you have any of those symptoms above – do not hesitate to ask for help. Talk to your doctor or book an appointment with a clinical counsellor. If you feel you may hurt yourself – call 911.