Depression is more than just feeling unhappy for a few days.
We may all go through spells of feeling down and distressed but, when you’re depressed, you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.
Some people still think that depression is trivial or not a real health condition. They’re wrong.
Depression is a real illness with real and painful symptoms, it’s not a sign of weakness or something you should feel ashamed of. Nor can you just snap out of it, or just pull yourself together.
However, there is good news. With the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery.
How you can tell if you are depressed
Depression affects people’s lives in different ways and can have a wide range of symptoms. These range from a lasting feeling of sadness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you enjoy and feeling very tearful. It may even come with feelings of anxiety. There are often physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive and complaining of various aches and pains.
My Emotional Symptoms
- I feel down in the dumps most days
- I feel restless and agitated
- I become tearful easily
- I feel numb, empty and full of despair
- I feel isolated and unable to relate to other people
- I am unusually irritable or impatient
- I find no pleasure in life or things I usually enjoy
- I feel helpless
- I am disinterested in sex
- I feel a sense of unreality
- I’m not doing the things that I usually enjoy
- I am avoiding social events
- I have cut myself off from others and can’t ask for help
- I am self-harming
- I find it difficult to speak
- I am finding it difficult to remember things
- I find it hard to concentrate or make decisions
- I blame myself and feel guilty about a lot of things
- I have no self-confidence or self-esteem
- I have a lot of negative thoughts
- My future seems bleak
- I wonder what the point is
- I have had thoughts and I am thinking about suicide
MY PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS
- I have difficulty in sleeping
- I am sleeping much more than I usually do
- I feel tired and I have no energy
- I have lost my appetite, and I am losing weight
- I am eating more than usual and putting on weight
- I have physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
- I am moving very slowly
- I am using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than I usually do
The above are all symptoms of depression and, if you ticked off five or more of them, you may well have depression.
The presentation and causes of depression are different for everyone that experiences it.
You may not realise what’s going on because, sometimes, your problems seem to be physical, rather than mental or emotional. There are also some other mental health problems often linked to depression.
These can vary in their severity. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low and, at its most severe, depression can leave you feeling suicidal and that life is no longer worth living.
For a more detailed list, read more about the symptoms of depression.
Many people experience feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short time, rather than being a sign of depression.
If you’ve been feeling low for more than a few days, please contact me for an informal and confidential chat.
Many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression but it’s best not to delay. The sooner you see a doctor and a counsellor, the sooner you can start to feel like yourself and be on your way to recovery.
Sometimes, there is a trigger for depression. Life-changing events, such as
- Losing your job
- Having a baby
can all bring on an episode of depression.
However, other contributing factors are that people with a family history of depression are also more likely to experience depression.
But it is also possible to become depressed for no apparent or obvious reason.
Depression is quite common and affects about one in 10 of us at some point. It affects men and women, young and old. Depression can also strike children. Studies have shown that about 4% of children aged five to sixteen in the UK are likely to be affected by depression.