Everyone feels “blue” at times. Life is full of highs and lows. But people with depression feel sad all of the time. Depression is a real medical illness. Left untreated, it can lead to other mental illnesses or even suicide. Real clinical depression is not something you can just shake off. You can’t talk yourself into feeling better. It can interfere with your daily activities and can hurt the ones close to you. The first step in getting better is to recognize the symptoms and admit that you might have depression. Some people may have only a few of the following symptoms while some may have many.
Persistent sad mood or feeling empty.
Feelings of hopelessness.
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
Loss of interest in favorite hobbies or things you once enjoyed
Loss of interest in sex.
Sleep disturbances, either sleeping too much or too little.
Inability to concentrate.
Overeating or not being able to eat.
Restlessness or irritability.
Thoughts of suicide.
Depression may also cause a wide variety of physical symptoms. People with depression often experience digestive disorders such as constipation, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Depressed people may also get frequent headaches and experience back pain. Anxiety attacks may also coincide with depression.
Women experience depression twice as often as men. Hormones can play a huge role in depression. Menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, post-partum period, miscarriage and menopause all can be contributing factors to depression. Women have additional responsibilities at work and at home and are usually the care giver for the children and sometimes aging parents. These stressors can lead to depression.
Men that are depressed often try to mask it with alcohol or drugs. They rarely admit to being depressed. Often times they will work excessively long hours to hide it. The rate of suicide in depressed men is four times that of women. Men often become angry, irritable and discouraged. They are less likely to seek help and are often harder to diagnose.
There are three major types of depression:
This is a disabling depression that has a combination of the symptoms listed above. It interferes with one’s ability to eat, sleep, work or enjoy pleasurable activities.
This is a less severe type of depression. It is not disabling, but generally keeps one from functioning well or feeling good. People with dysthymia will probably have a least one major depressive episode in their lives.
It is sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder. It is characterized by severe high and severe lows. The cycles may happen rapidly or come on gradually. Left untreated it can worsen to a psychotic state.
If you experience any of the above symptoms and they last for longer than a couple of weeks you should seek medical treatment. There is no shame in admitting that you may have depression. It doesn’t mean you are crazy or weak. People of all ages, race and gender can suffer from depression. With the right interventions, you can enjoy your life once again.