Depression is an insidious illness that can affect every part of a person’s life. The signs of depression can be subtle and difficult to detect. Not everyone who is depressed reacts to the disease in the same way. Depression is not simply a persistent feeling of sadness. It involves many other symptoms which can be detected by a caring psychologist or counselor. Debra Bailey Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, describes the signs of depression and offers help for those who are suffering from the condition.
Feelings of Sadness and Hopelessness
The feelings of sadness and hopelessness that come with major depression go far beyond what most people would consider a mild case of the blues. These feelings can come to color a person’s worldview. Hopelessness means that a depressed person often cannot see a way out of their predicament, leading some to consider suicide as a solution to their problems.
Feelings of Guilt and Worthlessness
People who are depressed often feel guilty about their thoughts and actions. They place blame on themselves when, in fact, the situations they are worried about have nothing to do with them personally. Depression affects their self-esteem, and they may feel that they are not worthy of others’ love and attention.
Many people who suffer from depression find it difficult to focus. They sometimes find that they are unable to pay attention or to complete tasks. Trouble concentrating can also lead to self-esteem issues, as a person feels that their depression is taking over every area of their life. People with depression also have problems with making decisions and remembering details.
People with depression may be insomniacs and be unable to settle down to sleep. Some people with depression may have the opposite problem of sleeping too much. Depression also causes people to wake very early in the morning, disturbing their sleep quality. A lack of sleep can exacerbate depression symptoms and lead to serious consequences.
Irritability and Restlessness
The perception of depressed people is that they are constantly overwhelmed by sadness and that they cry easily. Sadness is not the only mood which is involved in depression. Many people, especially men and children, find that their depression manifests in irritability and restlessness. People who are depressed have a difficult time controlling their emotions. They may burn bridges between themselves and their loved ones.
Sleep symptoms can lead to patients with depression to be fatigued. Fatigue can happen even when people feel like they are sleeping well. Depression changes the body’s reaction to different stimuli, and symptoms can happen when there is no rational reason for them.
Lack of Interest
People with depression often lose interest in activities that used to be satisfying. Reading, hobbies, even watching movies, may lose their shine. When a person is withdrawing from their prior activities, this is a good time to check for symptoms of depression.
Depression can create unhealthy attitudes toward food. People may overeat as a form of comfort, or they may lose interest in food altogether. Both of these symptoms may cause unhealthy weight loss or gain. A depressed person’s relationship with food is often complicated, and therapy is recommended to help them feel balanced again.
Aches and Pains
Many depressed people complain of aches and pains. Depression can cause headaches, cramps, bone aches, and muscle aches in otherwise healthy people. These are not psychosomatic symptoms as they are directly related to the disease itself. People with depression may also have problems with muscle tension, leading to injuries.
Stomach problems are common in depressed people. Stomachaches, nausea, and other digestive symptoms can be exacerbated by depression. These problems persist even when a person has received appropriate medical treatment.
Thoughts of Death and Suicide
A severely depressed person may become fascinated with death and frequently refer to it in conversations. They may believe that death is the only way to solve their problems and that the world would be better off without them. People who have detailed plans for suicide need to be watched closely. Any suicide attempts or thoughts of suicide should be taken seriously.
Help is Available
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly if they have persisted for more than two weeks, it is best to see your primary care doctor. Your primary care doctor can refer you to a qualified counselor or therapist along with a psychiatrist who can manage medications. Depression doesn’t have to be a life sentence. With proper treatment, many people recover from depression and find pleasure in life once more. Debra Bailey Ph.D. recommends that all people who are suffering from these symptoms ask for help.