What are the signs of depression?
There are many symptoms of depression. Individuals may have some or all of them. The intensity, duration and combination of symptoms are also highly variable from person to person. When thinking about whether you or your loved one is suffering from depression, keep in mind that what separates depression from the ordinary blues is that depression symptoms tend to be pervasive, persistent and impact people’s lives in significant ways. Common signs of depression include:
- Feeling sad or empty: People who are depressed may feel that there is no pleasure in life. They may feel like nothing could make them happy, not even an all-expense paid trip to the islands.
- Loss of interest: Individuals with depression lose interest in activities that used to have meaning. This may include hobbies, exercise, work or relationships. One of the most painful aspects of depression is that people can also seemingly lose their ability to enjoy time with family, children and friends. The love is still there of course; it is just buried under the pain of depression.
- Feeling hopeless: The old saying, ‘This too shall pass’ doesn’t ring true to people with depression. Depression can make people feel like these sad and negative feelings will never go away, and that there is no hope for them to be happy. Individuals with depression can be extremely pessimistic about all aspects of their lives. Feelings of hopelessness can lead to suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, so take these symptoms very seriously.
- Worthlessness and guilt: Depression makes people feel bad about themselves and their lives. They may focus on their failures, their losses or the things that have gone wrong, and not be able to see the things that have gone right. They can also feel guilty and angry at themselves for being depressed. They recognize that depression is harming their relationships, their careers and their lives, but they can’t change how they feel.
- Feeling Irritable: Negative emotions can weigh a person down and make them irritable, much in the way that physical pain can make people cranky or impatient. The psychological pain of depression can cause the same effect.
- Feeling constantly tired: When someone is depressed, daily routines and tasks that were once a breeze may seem too hard to tackle. Fatigue for no apparent reason, lethargy and not feeling like you have the energy to do much of anything are common signs of depression.
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing: Making decisions, reading or even watching TV can seem like too much to a depressed mind. People with depression sometimes feel that they can’t think clearly, focus or remember details. Even small or trivial decisions may seem overwhelming.
- Physical pain: Psychological pain can have an impact on the body. Headaches and body aches are often associated with depression. The stomach is another area of the body often impacted by depression. Many depressed individuals complain of cramps, nausea, upset stomach and other digestive problems.
- Increase in alcohol or drug use: People with depression may drink or use drugs to alleviate their symptoms or escape negative feelings. Substance use and depression often go hand in hand.
- Changes in sleep: Depression may cause individuals to sleep too much or too little. Some people may have a hard time getting out of bed, while others have insomnia. They may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and wake up feeling anxious.
- Changes in appetite: Overeating or having no appetite may also be a sign of depression. Food can lose its appeal and the person may feel like they have to force themself to eat. On the other hand, food can also be a source of comfort for individuals with depression and they may overeat when they didn’t before. Depression often leads to weight gain or weight loss.