Article by Ann Stewart
What really is depression and how can you spot it? If you suspect a person close to you may be suffering from classical depression, it is important to have an idea as to what kind of symptoms to look for.
Depressed persons are not necessarily sad. Most often they just feel lifeless, empty, and have lost their sense of humour and joy. Even when doing their favourite activities, they may feel detached from the project, robot-like and merely going through the motions.
Depression symptoms vary from person to person, and fluctuate in severity over time. As well, be aware that not all of the classical traits will affect each sufferer at the same time.
All depression sufferers share certain distinct symptoms. Some of these symptoms may be easily overlooked by both the patients themselves and others close to them.
The most common depression symptoms are:
• Prolonged Periods of Sadness and Lack of “Get-Up and Go”
These people often complain of not being in the mood, and prefer to stay home, feeling sorry for themselves.
• Feelings of Hopelessness
Chronic pessimism, feeling sorry for one’s self, and tending to blame others for their predicament are common traits. They feel like they have nothing to look forward to in life.
• Guilt Ridden, Low Self Esteem and Helplessness
These usually go hand in hand when a person, due to a sense of guilt about a past mistake, feels unworthy and helpless to do anything about it. Their usual interest in hobbies and enjoyable pastimes suddenly disappears.
Those suffering from depression are chronically tired because they have lost their former zest for life. This lack of enthusiasm usually fosters low appetite and little sleep.
• Low Degree of Concentration
Lack of interest in the world around them leads to shortness of concentration, bad memory and indecisiveness.
A considerable amount of aches and pain, mainly arthritis and backache, is generally associated with chronic depression. Headaches and sudden digestive disorders are also symptomatic of depression.
• Altered Sleep and Appetite
A depressed person may eat and sleep less due to the low level of enthusiasm, as mentioned before. However, the contrary can also be symptomatic. When feeling depressed, people often feel like sleeping at all hours of the day. Likewise, both sudden weight gains and losses can be signs of depression as well. Some have no appetite at all and are not motivated to eat. Others, on the other hand, feel the need to overcompensate for the empty feeling in their soul by food and/or alcohol.
• Suicidal Thoughts
Expressions of death and suicide have to be taken very seriously. Even when seemingly said in jest, professional intervention must be encouraged. The depressed person will try to conceal their true thoughts by subsequent denials.
• Restlessness and Irritability
People who are depressed have the feeling that there is no escape for them. They are not able to see a way out of their situation, and feel hopelessly trapped. Their negative thoughts become an obsession as they are being blown out of proportion.