Depression is a very common yet widely misunderstood condition. This is mainly due to the confusion between short term sadness, despondency and lack of motivation that can commonly be termed as 'depressed' and the more serious and longer lasting feelings of clinical depression.
This confusion contributes to the misguided belief from others around the depressed person that they can just 'snap out 'of this state and instantly take control of their life.
Common signs of clinical depression (where feelings are experienced for over two weeks) include low mood and sadness, feelings of hopelessness and despondency, loss of interest in areas of life that would usually give pleasure.
Physical symptoms can include difficulty in sleeping or excessive sleeping, fatigue during the day, lack of interest in normal physical needs such as food and sex. On the other hand, for some people these needs are desired more so instead of weight loss from lack of appetite, excessive comfort eating can lead to weight gain.
General unexplained aches and pains - seen by a surprising 7 out of 10 patients seen by GPs in practice - can have an origin in depression though of course everyone experiences aches and pains at various times.
Statistically two out of three of us will develop depression at some point in our adult life and in many cases this can be alleviated with self help measures by making lifestyle changes such as exercise and rebalancing life's pressures. Sometimes though this isn't enough and depression may be mild to severe and may interfere with everyday life. Medication such as anti depressants can work well with counselling to help you.
As well as the symptoms already described, you may experience the following:
Withdrawal from social interaction / severe lack of self esteem and self worth / severe lack of motivation / lack of self care.
Addictions may become more apparent.
Self harming, where feelings become so unbearable that some people attempt to control these feelings or 'punish' themselves for example by cutting themselves, pulling hair etc.
Recurrent thoughts of death and dying which can lead to suicidal thoughts. If you suffer or have a close family member or friend who has the above symptoms, check first with a doctor that there is no physical cause for the depression or accompanying physical symptoms. You may be prescribed medication and this can help whether in the short term or the long term. Talking therapies are a good way of examining the deeper issues that may have lead to the feelings of depression. By starting to talk at your own pace about your life with a neutral person , you can start to explore your beliefs and ways of thinking about yourself and others and help alleviate the deeper issues that may have been causing the depressive feelings.
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