Depression is a mental disorder that is often misunderstood. There are times that you may think you suffer from clinical depression, but sometimes, you are not just sure about what sets your feelings apart from somebody who is just feeling blue.
In terms of human experience, feeling blue, hopeless or unloved is a normal thing. In fact, there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that way, most particularly if you are experiencing some events in your life such as losing a job, poor grades, romantic breakup or death in the family. This is not classified as depression.
More often than not, depression comes about for no reason. It may hit anyone when they are just living their lives, doing nothing special, and cannot function suddenly. Nothing really matters. The black hole you find in yourself just grows bigger and bigger every day and there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Although depression can be treated with both psychotherapy and medications, not all experience the same symptoms. Some may experience only a few symptoms while others may suffer from a lot of them. Also, the severity of the symptoms differs with every individual and varies over time.
Below are some of the things you should watch out for if you think you’re experiencing depression:
Changes in Sleeping Habits
There’s a strong link between sleep and mood. Lack of sleep may contribute to depression. In fact, people who suffer from insomnia are more likely to have depression than the ones without the condition based on a study. However, sleeping too much may also be a sign that a person is depressed.
Loss of Focus
When someone trails off during the conversations or loses their thoughts, it may indicate issues with concentration and memory, which is one of the common symptoms of depression.
In a study, it shows that difficulties with focus and concentration may worsen the depression’s social impact by making personal and work-life relationships more challenging.
Drug or Alcohol Use
Several people with mood disorders may use drugs or alcohol to cope with their feelings of hopelessness, sadness or loneliness. Based on a report, 1 out of 5 persons with a mood disorder like depression or anxiety has a substance or alcohol use disorder.
Loss of Interest
One of the things you should know about depression is that it may take the enjoyment or pleasure out of the things you usually love. Withdrawal or loss of interest from the activities that you looked forward to such as hobbies, sports or bonding with friends is another sign of depression.
Feeling very tired is a common symptom of depression. Based on research, it shows that 90 percent of people with depression suffer from fatigue. Even if everybody feels tired from time to time, those who have persistent or severe tiredness, particularly if it accompanies some symptoms, may have depression.
Hopeless Outlook in Life
Major depression affects the way you feel about all aspects of life. Having a helpless or hopeless outlook in your life is a sign that you are depressed. Some feelings may be self-hate, inappropriate guilt or worthlessness.
Recurring common thoughts of depression can be vocalized as questioning your life or everything is your fault.
There are times that people who have hidden depression refer to it as “smiling” depression. It is because those who hide their symptoms may always put a happy face whenever surrounded by their loved ones.
But, it can be hard to keep up the forced happiness, so the mask can slip and a person might show signs of loneliness, sadness or hopelessness.
Health Disorders and Physical Pains
Depression is basically a mental health condition, but it may also have some physical consequences. Aside from fatigue or weight changes, some physical symptoms of depression that you should look out for are backache, headache, and chronic pain conditions.
Research done indicates that people with depression are more likely to experience health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and arthritis.
While depression has not been shown to cause anxiety, such conditions may often occur together. The symptoms of anxiety are increased sweating, muscle twitching, rapid heart rate, feelings of panic, nervousness, and trouble focusing.
Weight and Appetite Changes
Appetite and weight may fluctuate for those who have depression. This experience can vary from one person to another. Others will gain weight and have an increased appetite while some will lose weight as they feel hunger.
An indication of whether the dietary changes are related to depression is if they are intentional or not. If they are not, it could mean that they care due to depression.
People with depression will have an outburst of anger in a minute and will cry uncontrollably afterward. Nothing really prompts the changes, but the emotions are up and down. Depression may also cause mood swings.
Depression and Its Common Causes
Scientists haven’t really figured out yet the real cause of depression. But, a lot of experts think that there are some factors that play a role in its onset and these include the following:
- Personality Traits – Being pessimistic or having low self-esteem, for instance, may boost the risk of depression.
- Stress or Trauma – Traumatic events, major changes in life or periods of high stress may trigger an episode of depression in several people.
- Hormones – Hormonal imbalances or changes in the body can trigger or cause depression. For instance, numerous women suffer from postpartum depression after they give birth.
- Chemical and Biological Differences – Chemical imbalances or physical changes in the brain can contribute to depression’s development.
- Genetics – Depression may run in the families. If you have a close relative with this condition, it may increase your risk of developing depression.
Symptoms Of Depression Vary With Age And Gender
Oftentimes, depression varies according to gender and age. The symptoms may also differ between older adults and young people or men and women.
They are less likely to acknowledge feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing. But rather, they tend to complain about sleep problems, loss of interest in hobbies and work, irritability, and fatigue.
They are also more likely to experience some symptoms including substance abuse, reckless behavior, aggression, and anger.
Women are more likely to experience depression compared to men due to social, hormonal, and biological factors. Other signs of depression can vary between the sexes. For instance, depressed women are more likely to experience symptoms like anxiety and excessive guilt.
Other kinds of depression are unique to women. Such include depression experienced as part of PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric and perimenopausal depression. Postpartum depression, like perinatal depression, is associated with women even if new parents of any gender may experience it.
Women who experience symptoms of depression are recommended to consult medical practitioners about treatment options like medication and psychotherapy.
Teens may also experience depression, but it can be hard for their caregivers to determine the symptoms and most cases go untreated and undiagnosed.
The signs of depressions in young adults and teens may vary to those in adults and these may include picking fights and being argumentative, sleep disturbances, and difficulties with school activities.
Some typical signs of depression, like loss of interest and fatigue, are often present.
It’s essential to distinguish normal teen behaviors from teenage depression. Particular changes in the mood like serious school or social problems indicate that healthcare professionals must be consulted.
Young children who experience depression may change their behaviors as they go through various childhood stages and since they may show various signs of depression, it can be hard for the caregivers to recognize that a kid is depressed.
Some of the symptoms of depression in children are excessive sulking, being negative and irritable, excessive tantrums, displaying a lack of care, and so on. Such symptoms may interfere with the kid’s ability to partake in the social activities, enjoy family life, and complete schoolwork.
Depressed Older Adults
Adults, when depressed, tend to complain more about physical signs rather than the emotional ones. Some of the symptoms of depression in older adults are memory problems, fatigue, and unexplained pains and aches.
They can also neglect their appearance and stop taking some critical health medications.
Know The Different Types Of Depression
Depression may come in many forms and shapes. While defining depression’s severity level, whether it is major, mild or moderate, can be complicated, it is important to know what kind of depression you have can help you manage your symptoms.
This will also help you determine the most effective treatment ideal for your condition. Below are some of the types of depression:
Moderate or Mild Depression
It is a type of depression that is very common and it’s more than just feeling blue because its symptoms may interfere with your daily life and can rob your motivation and joy. Such symptoms may be amplified when it comes to moderate depression and may result to a decline in self-esteem and confidence.
It’s a subtype of major depression with a particular symptom pattern. But, the best thing about atypical depression is that it responds well to several medications and therapies than others, so determining it may be very helpful.
Those who have atypical depression experience a mood lift in response to positive events like after getting good news and while out with loved ones. Some symptoms may include sleeping excessively, increased appetite, weight gain, sensitivity to rejection, and feeling in the legs and arms.
It’s much less common compared to moderate or mild depression and characterized by relentless or severe symptoms. Once left untreated, it may last for up to 6 months. Others experience a single depressive episode in their lifetime. However, major depression may be a recurring disorder.
It’s a kind of chronic low-grade depression. Oftentimes, people with this type of depression feel moderately or mildly depressed even if you may have periods of normal mood.
Basically, dysthymia and its symptoms aren’t as strong as the symptoms of a major depression, but they frequently last for a long time. Others also experience depressive episodes aside from dysthymia, which is a condition renowned as double depression.
Once you suffer from dysthymia, you might feel like you have always been depressed or you might think that your low mood is like your normal self.
SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder
For others, winter’s reduced daylight hours may result in a kind of depression called SAD or seasonal affective disorder. It affects about 1 to 2 percent of the population, especially young people and women.
SAD might make you feel a different person to who you really are in the summer. Usually, SAD starts in winter or fall when the days become shorter and it may remain until several days of spring.
When To Ask For Help
It is essential not to ignore the signs of depression, especially if they are getting worse. It is recommended to see a doctor immediately to manage your depression.
Take note that depression is considered a treatable condition. Isolating yourself from others will not help you and may just worsen your condition. If you don’t want to be a slave to depression and get it treated quickly, don’t hesitate to reach out to experts for you to get diagnosis and treatment like psychotherapy as soon as possible.
Not all people with depression will show the usual symptoms of despair and sadness. There are times that the only signs may show are physical such as weight changes, fatigue or insomnia. Some hidden depression signs may include using drugs or alcohol, losing interest in activities, and acting angry or irritable.
When you are depressed, it may feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. However, there are numerous things you can do to stabilize and lift your mood. The key is to begin with some small goals and build from there slowly, trying to do a bit more daily.
It takes time to feel better, but you will get there by making some positive choices for yourself.