What are the first symptoms of depression that come to mind?
Depression in today’s world is a term as familiar as the phones in our hand. Many times, the resulting effects of this dreaded illness are lasting and leave us all in shock, no matter how many times we hear the harrowing tales.
(This guest post contains mentions of suicide, so proceed with caution)
Stories of friends —loved ones who seemed “happy,” “functional,” and “carefree” one day —slashing their wrists, taking poisonous substances, and generally trying to do away with themselves out of the deepest frustration are everywhere.
Depression hurts the many people it affects; even those who are not its direct victims, leaving scars of inadequacy and the feeling of not being good enough to cheer a depressed loved one up. “Maybe if I call more, or act more sensitive, or move in with them, they’ll get better,” we think.
Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with depression and anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
10 common symptoms of depression
This is all very well, but do we truly understand what symptoms of depression are? Depression goes beyond occasional bouts of sadness, beyond emotional grievances, beyond having a bad day.
Depression is persistent, constant, pressing feelings of sadness, frustration, hopelessness, inadequacy, and a loss of willingness to cope with day-to-day activities. These symptoms are so intense, that they lead to a wide range of behavioral and physical symptoms.
Depression is so cloaked in a veil of “normalcy”, that someone beside you might be depressed and you would not know it. By now you might be shrugging your shoulders and asking, “How then can I identify these symptoms?”
Depression does not have to be a mystery. Here are ten signs of depression, and how to recognize their symptoms.
1. Trouble with focusing or remembering details.
We all have issues sometimes recollecting little details around us. Sometimes this could just be a symptom of stress. Chronic loss of concentration, trouble with remembering details and making little decisions like what to eat, whether to stand up from bed, for example, are subtle warnings of depression. Forgetfulness and distraction could be a clear sign of inner tension, and is definitely worth watching out for. Spaced out behaviour that is repetitive should be monitored.
2. Fatigue, unexplainable tiredness.
Everyone feels tired once in a while, but when it becomes chronic, there is a strong possibility that mental stress is translating into an extreme unwillingness to bother with normal day-to-day activities.
As a result of erratic sleep patterns, a depressed person runs the risk of feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Some depressed people have likened this to feeling like they are so tired they can’t lift even a finger.
Depression can make your whole body feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
Depression is a mental illness, and since the mind rules the body, it often takes only a very short time for physical symptoms of depression to emerge.
3. Erratic or changed sleep patterns.
One of the most commonly identified symptoms of depression is a marked change in sleep pattern, swinging towards extremes. Insomnia is a majorly remarked sign of a depressed person. This is because the person has so many sad thoughts that they find it difficult to sleep. This eventually becomes a habit and affects the quality of the person’s lifestyle.
On the flip side, a person suffering from depression might also tend to sleep too long, too often. Excessively oversleeping shows apathy, a sure sign that a person is losing hope really fast.
4. Loss of Interest in Routine Activities.
Just like changed or disturbed sleep patterns, a person who is depressed is likely to lose interest in activities from which he/she once derived pleasure. Maybe you’ve noticed someone who used to love to hang out, play basketball, and just chat, has become withdrawn and unavailable.
Suddenly plans are cancelled more and more often, and excuses are given for just sitting at home staring at the ceiling. That’s when you should worry, and try to reach out.
5. Anger or irritability.
Sometimes, a marked change in a person’s temperament can be one of the symptoms of depression. Not every depressed person keeps to their room, locked up all day.
Some people express inner tension by lashing out at others over apparently small issues. Watch out for feelings of agitation, restlessness, or even violence.
Their tolerance level is often low, tempers are short, and everything and everyone gets on a depressed person’s nerves.
Check out this guided meditation you can try when you’re feeling angry
When a person you know suddenly begins to berate their every action, and engage in constant negative self-criticism, then this is another one of the most common symptoms of depression.
Statements like, “I hate myself,” “I’m no good to anyone,” “I can’t do anything right,” “I’m worthless,” repeated constantly should not be taken lightly.
Depression is associated with strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. A depressed person will feel unworthy, and will harshly criticize his/herself for perceived faults and mistakes.
Depression is linked to low self-esteem, and a deep inferiority complex.
7. Reckless behavior.
When someone is depressed, there will usually be a marked disregard for the safety of their lives.
They might act wild and reckless, saying they don’t care whether they live or die.
When someone you know engages in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports, you might want to let them know that this is one of the symptoms of depression. Tell them to seek immediate help!
8. Unexplained aches and pains.
An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
Depression often has these physical symptoms, due to fatigue and a general lack of health consciousness.
9. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Do you know someone who seems totally apathetic about everything? This is another one of the most common symptoms of depression. Depression causes a bleak outlook on life—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
10. Appetite or weight changes.
Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
When a person is depressed, you are likely to notice a marked change in their eating patterns. They might overeat as a source of comfort, leading to obvious weight gain.
Food is often a defensive mechanism to cope with feelings of inner emptiness.
When You Should Be Worried.
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with other symptoms of depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously and watch for the warning signs:
- Talking about killing or harming one’s self
- Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
- An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
- Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
- Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
- Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
- Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
- A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy.
If you have ticked four out of these signs stated above, then there is a strong possibility that your suspicions are correct.
If you think a friend or family member is experiencing one of these symptoms of depression, please express your concern and guide them to seek help immediately.
Talking openly about depression can ensure that there is no depreciation into suicidal thoughts and feelings, and can be the difference between life and death. That’s how serious it truly is.
Have you ever experienced anything like this? Let us know in the comments so we can show support! And make sure to share this with your friends on social media.
Symptoms of depression can be scary, but there is help out there!
About the Author
I’m Christiana! A chronic worshipper with a DIY spirit. After a near death experience, I started my journey to living a more purposeful life!
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