What is Depression?
Before we can understand depression symptoms, we should define what exactly depression is.
If you were to ask a group of people who have suffered from clinical depression to define the illness, you will hear a variety of answers. Depression is a very personal experience that millions of people all over the world experience.
People manifest different symptoms and signs of depression, but one thing is certain: depression is a difficult illness that can destroy your life if left unresolved.
Many people with depression describe it as a sense of despair that engulfs everything they do and everything they feel.
Those who think being depressed is simply feeling sad because something didn’t go your way, like your favorite team losing the championship game, have no idea what suffering from a true depression is really like. Depression is much deeper and more invasive than sadness or frustration.
Depression takes everything away from you; it saps your energy, focus, concentration, and especially your joy. You may feel like you just don't care about anything, including important people in your life. This feeling in itself can be very frightening.
Depression Symptoms Include Physical Problems
Depression doesn't only take its toll on your emotions and mental state; it can cause serious physical problems as well. Depression may cause you to either lose your appetite or eat incessantly. It also zaps your energy and motivation.
When you're depressed, you tend to become inactive. This alone can cause a number of problems, but when added to some of the other physical symptoms of depression, it's easy to see why depression is such a serious illness.
In addition, depression can lead to:
- Lack of sleep - Depression can cause insomnia, which strips the body of the necessary sleep in order to function properly.
- Poor nutrition - When depressed, many people fail to take in proper nutrients. It takes too much effort to plan and prepare a meal. This can cause several health problems.
- Aches and pains - When you're depressed, the chemicals in the brain that signal pain are as affected as those chemicals in your brain that help you feel happy. Physical aches and pains often increase, which in turn kicks in the sad feelings and the cycle begins again.
- Hygiene issues - Many times those who suffer from depression don’t even have the energy or the motivation to be concerned with self-care.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
Some specific depression symptoms those suffering with depression may experience are:
* Constant and severe sadness about everything
* Insomnia or trouble sleeping
* Trouble concentrating
* Loss of interest in things that once interested them
* Feeling worthless, useless and guilty for no reason at all
* Serious change in weight, one way or the other
* Lack of energy and fatigue
One thing about depression is certain: it's a serious condition and should be taken seriously.
As depression progresses, it feeds on itself like a snowball rolling downhill. The longer someone is depressed, the worse the depression gets until they see no way out of it at all. They may become resigned to just constantly feeling miserable.
Depression can be caused by a certain event, the change of seasons, a loss of someone close, or even a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Types Of Depression
There are a number of forms of depressive disorders. The main categories and most common forms are major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder.
Major depression: This is the most common type of depression. It is also called clinical or unipolar depression. The depression symptoms of major depression vary from person to person, however, there are common characteristics of this disorder.
A person dealing with major depression can have a combination of depression symptoms that interfere with their ability to work, sleep, eat, think clearly, and enjoy once–pleasurable activities. If not treated, this depression can be debilitating and produce feelings of despair and isolation severe enough to create thoughts of suicide as the only escape.
Dysthymia. A person who suffers from this depressive disorder experiences depression on a constant, persistent basis. This depression is classified as mild depression as the depression symptoms are typically less severe than major depression; however, it is characteristically long term, with episodes lasting up to two years or more. Although this depression may not disable a person, it can prevent them from functioning normally and coping with their everyday lives.
There are other forms of depression that have slightly different characteristics than those described above, and sometimes develop under unique circumstances. They include:
- Psychotic depression. This type of depression occurs when a severe depressive state is accompanied by some form of psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations.
- Postpartum depression. Postpartum or postnatal depression occurs after a woman gives birth. It differs from the “baby blues”, which is a short, mild form of depression or sadness that is quite common after pregnancy and lasts no more than two weeks. The
symptoms of postpartum depression,
on the other hand, last longer and are more severe.
can begin anytime within the first year after childbirth, and can significantly affect a woman's well-being and keep her from functioning well for a longer period of time. Anxiety is also more prominent in postpartum depression.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective dissorder is a depressive illness which occurs during the winter months, when less natural sunlight is available. The depression generally eases during spring and summer.
- Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is less common than major depression or dysthymia. Bipolar disorder is characterized by serious swings in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior. A person suffering from bipolar disorder shifts from the highs of mania on one extreme, to the lows of depression on the other. These highs and lows can last from a just a few days to months, and are so severe they interfere with the person’s ability to function.
Depression Treatment Options
The treatment for depression most commonly involves
(also known as talk therapy), prescription medication, or there are alternative choices such as
that help treat depression.
If you recognize depression symptoms in someone you know, the best thing you can do is be his or her friend. Many times those who are depressed feel guilty because they feel they have no “real” reason to justify the depression. They may resort to keeping it all inside, and hiding it from those closest to them. Try to talk to them and help them through this period. Help them seek medical care to treat their illness as soon as you notice their depression symptoms.
If you think you may be depressed, talk to a health care provider or mental health professional. Depression doesn't have to ruin your life! With help and support, you can conquer your depression, move past it, and go on to live a joyful life.
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