Signs of Depression
Often, we tend to use the word ‘depression’ colloquially to convey the meaning of a low feeling. But there is a world of difference between feeling blue and being depressed. So, let’s try to understand some of the typical signs and symptoms of depression.
Feeling of Hopelessness
When faced with a situation that overwhelms us, it is natural to feel helpless and have a bleak outlook. But in most cases, we manage to crawl back to normal little by little and start looking for ways to handle the problem. A depressed person is not able to make this transition – he keeps feeling a constant sense of hopelessness and begins to believe that nothing can ever make things better.
Every person has a particular eating pattern and if there is a significant departure from normal appetite levels, it could be a sign of depression. Depressed people may respond in one of two ways – some people tend to suffer from a complete loss of appetite and may need to be pushed to eat. Some people with depression try to counteract the dull and low feeling by overeating and this leads to an unexplained weight gain. Read about how depression may be more common than you think.
Changes in Sleep Pattern
The friend I mentioned complained of severe sleep disturbances – she, who would fall asleep within a few minutes of lying in bed now found herself tossing and turning through the night with just a couple of hours of sleep. Worse, she found that she woke up to a renewed sense of hopelessness every morning, dreading the arrival of yet another day to get through. According to Dr. Kashi, this difficulty in falling or staying asleep is a typical sign of depression but the opposite may also happen – some depressed persons find themselves sleeping much more than usual as if seeking oblivion in sleep.
Loss of Interest
Depressed people find no interest in performing daily activities; sometimes, they may also attribute this to a sense of being physically and emotionally drained and fatigued. Whether it is pursuing a hobby, socializing with friends, watching television, browsing the net, reading books, playing with the kids and even sex, a person with depression feels uninterested or incapable of doing things he or she previously enjoyed.
Changes in Energy Levels
Some people with depression find themselves in a constant state of restlessness that leaves them quite agitated and unable to sit still or stay with one task. Others feel completely drained of energy as if the slightest movement or activity is too much of an effort to make. In the latter case, the depressed person may eventually even stop cleaning and dressing himself and give up eating altogether.
Problems with Mental Processing
Inability to pay attention and stay focused on the task at hand, difficulty in making even the smallest of decisions – should I wear the blue outfit or the yellow one – and a foggy feeling in the mind are all strong indications of depression.
A Sense of Self-Loathing
One of the biggest giveaway signs of depression is a strong feeling of guilt or self-loathing that leads a person to be overly critical of herself. Many people with depression have completely negative self-beliefs and keep mentally going over past events, seeing only their failings and blaming themselves for all their troubles. This is quite different from genuine introspection that seeks to view things realistically. Dr. Kashi points out that in quite a few cases, this feeling of self-loathing may goad the depressed individual into contemplating suicide.
When I heard my friend describe how she felt, I encouraged her to seek counseling because sometimes, just being able to unburden yourself without fear of being judged can work wonders for a person’s spirit. Luckily, her depression was found to be of the mild variety and after a few counseling sessions, she was able to adopt certain changes in her lifestyle that helped her pull herself out of the rut in which she was stuck. If you ever find yourself feeling blue for a very long time, remember that it could be a sign you are getting sucked into the vortex of depression and reach out to a counselor for help.