One of the things just about all of us can be prone to, regarding our mental health, is any form of depression. So, I present you here with some information about how to recognize the signs of depression. You may recognize some of these while some of them might surprise you.
Please understand that none of the information provided here is intended as a replacement or substitute for advice from your doctor or mental health professional.
So, let’s dive in.
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions out there. In any given year, 7 to 10% of the population will experience clinical depression, and it is the single greatest cause of disability worldwide.
A lot of people may know some of the symptoms of depression, but not all of the various signs that may indicate the presence of depression.
This is one of the most commonly thought of signs of depression and one of the most well-known symptoms of depression. Difficulties with feelings of sadness, feeling down, feeling blue, a real sense of just despair and sadness. But it can also take the form of irritability.
So, for some people, they don’t necessarily feel the subjective sense of sad, but they just feel kind of irritable and really short fused. And for others, it’s not so much that they feel down or sad or even irritable. They just feel it a tremendous sense of emptiness or despair.
So those mood symptoms are one of the most well-known symptoms of depression.
Loss of interest and pleasure
This is a tendency for people to just not get any sense of enjoyment or reward out of things that they may have enjoyed before. So, for someone with depression, they may find that they just don’t really get any enjoyment out of hobbies or recreational activities or socializing.
They just want to be left alone. They don’t want to do anything, and they want to just withdraw on their own. This symptom is sometimes referred to as Anhedonia. Essentially what it means is the inability to experience pleasure or enjoyment.
So even if a person is doing something that they know they should be enjoying, so they’re engaging in a recreational activity or a hobby that they’ve enjoyed in the past. Or they’re spending time with friends or family, and they know that they should be feeling enjoyment, they should be having a good time, but they just can’t feel it.
They just don’t feel anything.
They’re not enjoying themselves at all and can’t muster up the sense of enjoyment. That’s Anhedonia. Another symptom of Anhedonia is that sometimes people don’t realize is that it can have a negative effect on sex drive and libido. And so, it’s not uncommon for people with depression to just not have any interest or drive-in sex.
Obviously, this could lead to big problems in relationships. And it can lead to a person sort of questioning or beating themselves up for why they’re not interested in sex anymore. And that can further contribute to the feelings off depression or hopelessness or worthlessness.
Change in appetite
This could go either way. Typically, it is more associated with a loss of appetite. So, people with depression will tend not to feel hungry. They’ll wake up in the morning and maybe skip breakfast, skip lunch and before they know it, by the end of the day, they haven’t eaten anything because they just didn’t feel hungry at all throughout the day.
For others, they will force themselves to eat because they know they should be eating but they just don’t feel any sense of hunger. They just don’t feel any sense of enjoyment out of the food. It’s almost like the food loses a bit of its taste more and more.
For others, it could be a tendency to overeat. And when we talk about overeating, it’s not so much the person has a raging appetite. It’s more like they’re eating out of trying to get a sense of comfort. So, a person typically craves certain types of food like things which are high in carbohydrates or really sweet and sugary.
It’s just a way of trying to feel better through food.
And the food typically isn’t the healthiest food. So, it’s not like a person is going to be eating a lot of salads. It’s more foods that are easy to prepare, easy to get into and that tend to sort of satisfy a person right away.
So, it’s almost like the eating is a way of numbing some of the emotional pain that a person’s experiencing. So, both these signs of depression must be watched for.
Difficulty with sleep
This can take different forms. Typically, it’s in terms of a person having problems falling and staying asleep. So, either it takes them a long time to fall asleep and just tossing and turning in bed. Staring at the ceiling can take hours to fall asleep.
And when a person does fall asleep, they may be asleep for a few hours and then they may wake up throughout the night and have difficulty falling back asleep.
For some people, this could take the form of early morning waking.
So, they wake up at 3:30 or four in the morning and can’t get back to sleep. They just lay in bed until it’s time to get up. And then they just feel exhausted throughout the day because they haven’t gotten that full night’s sleep.
The other side of it is that people will often oversleep.
People can spend a lot of time in bed and they sleep excessively. They are essentially just using sleep as an escape. It’s their way of getting away from the depression feelings of sadness or emptiness. It’s kind of a break away from depression.
Psycho Motor Agitation or Psycho Motor Slowing
What the first term means is that for people with depression, they can sometimes experience a sense of physical restlessness. Some kind of agitation, difficulty sitting still, hand wringing and just a sense that they get which prevents them from being relaxed.
For some people, this could take the form of quite the opposite, which is psycho motor slowing. So, everything is a little bit slower. The person talks slower and may also talk more quietly. They may find that they’re moving slower, or their ability to sort of think and talk and the ability to respond to questions has become slower.
These two are the signs of depression that a lot of people typically don’t think about or know about.
A general sense of fatigue
It’s quite common for people, in part because the lack of sleep, but also just in part because of the overall effect that depression has on the person for them to just feel really worn out and tired, even if they’re not doing anything.
So, someone with depression may have really not done very much in terms of physical activity, but they feel exhausted and drained. Even simple things or seemingly simple things like brushing their teeth or having a shower just feels so exhausting and so overwhelming.
This exhaustion and fatigue are physical manifestations of depression. Physically the person is incapable or has difficulty really doing things because they’re so tired all the time.
Experience feelings of worthlessness or guilt
The affected person may think in the lines of – I’m no good at anything or I’m going to fail at everything I do or a sense that I’m letting everyone down.
It’s this sense of negativity allows for a tendency to really beat themselves up. Also, a tendency to experience a fair bit of guilt. Guilt about things that maybe they shouldn’t even feel guilty about.
In extreme cases, people can experience guilt about stuff that they don’t have control over. Guilt about things going on in the world that aren’t even their fault. But they feel a sense of real guilt and intend to beat themselves up over it.
Have difficulties thinking and processing information
People exhibiting signs of depression can have problems with concentration, difficulty focusing, difficulty maintaining their attention on a task, problems with short term memory, forgetting appointments, forgetting where they put their keys, forgetting that they had a conversation with somebody or forgetting what somebody told them.
In part because it’s hard for them to process the information and think through to reach any decisions, but also partly because of self-doubt. They don’t think that they’re going to make good decisions anyway.
This is one symptom that a lot of people aren’t really aware of, and they think that they’re going crazy. They’re losing their mind because they don’t think as clearly as they used to. It’s hard for them to keep focus. They’re finding that they’re forgetting a lot of things, and they wonder if they’re losing their mind or if they’re getting early signs of dementia.
In fact, in elderly populations, this is sometimes referred to a pseudodementia.
People who are elderly and are experiencing depression will have these cognitive difficulties, will have problems with attention and memory, and they could get mistakenly labeled as having dementia, when in fact it’s not dementia. It’s depression, but it’s not really being recognized as depression.
So those cognitive effects, those impairments in terms of thinking and concentration and memory, those air symptoms that a lot of people typically aren’t aware of that is a part of depression.
Thoughts of death
Signs of depression can inhibit thoughts like – maybe it would be better if I wasn’t here or maybe it would be better for my family if I wasn’t here.
These thoughts of death can somewhat fall on a continuum from what is referred to as passive thoughts of death. Just a general sense of not wanting to be here and not wanting to be in the world anymore to more active thoughts about suicide and a person thinking about taking their life.
This can be continuous as well, where people with sort of vague thoughts about thinking suicide or taking their lives to more serious thoughts where they’re actually planning out how and what they’ll do.
And depending on the level of thought that they’ve put into the suicide, it varies the amount of risk.
So those are some of the major signs of depression. You probably knew some of them, and maybe some of them were unexpected, but I hope this has been helpful.
If you think you might be experiencing depression, or if you think that there’s someone like a family member or a loved one who’s experiencing depression, maybe this gave you a better sense of what depression is beyond just feeling sad or feeling down.
So that’s it for this topic today.
Remember, none of the information on signs of depression is to be treated as medical advice to replace the need to seek help from your doctor or a medical expert.
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Thank you for stopping by today.