Everyone goes through seasons in life when he or she feels down, discouraged and/or frustrated. That’s perfectly normal, especially when you experience heartache and pain, such as the death of a loved one or loss of a job. Sometimes, however, those negative feelings linger, or you are overwhelmed by your mood and can’t figure out why you feel the way you do. Could you be clinically depressed? Fortunately, you don’t have to stumble around in the dark searching for a clue. There are symptoms and signs you can examine yourself for, as well as ways to get you back to an even keel so you can live an active, healthy life.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, depression can progress and worsen, lasting for years and years. People with untreated depression usually suffer and struggle through life, and may even succumb to suicide. Obviously, depression is a serious problem, and the importance of depression screening and knowing the symptoms becomes even clearer when one realizes that approximately half of individuals exhibiting symptoms of clinical, or major, depression are never treated or even diagnosed. Happily, this does not have to remain the norm.
Listed below are symptoms of major depression. If you find that you have several or more of these symptoms, please seek help. Get in touch with a mental health professional. The potential risk of living with depression is quite serious—over 10 percent of people with untreated depression commit suicide.
- Fatigue and lowered energy
- Difficulty concentrating and focusing on details; indecisiveness
- Pervasive feelings of sadness and unhappiness
- Loss of interest and pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy
- Reduced or nonexistent sex drive
- Changes in appetite, both overeating and lack of interest in food
- Changes in sleep patterns, both insomnia and/or oversleeping
- Unexplained physical problems, such as headaches or stomach issues
- Crying for no reason
- Frequent or uncontrollable thoughts of death or suicide
- Pervasive feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Irritability and frustration, especially over small matters
It’s important to note that degrees of severity exist within the boundaries of the above-mentioned signs. Some people exhibit symptoms so fully that there is no question that they are struggling with depression. Others, however, may simply feel unhappy and dissatisfied for long periods of time without really understanding why. Also, it’s important to understand that your heritage, personality and genetic makeup, as well as factors such as age and gender, can affect how these symptoms manifest in your life. If you have any concerns about depression, again it is best that you seek the advice of a mental health expert.
Depression Symptoms in Children and Teenagers
Depression can often look slightly different when a child or teenager suffers from it. Because of their growing bodies and changing hormones, they often react differently to their feelings. Young children are likely to exhibit the hopelessness, sadness, and worry aspects of the disease, but the changes in sleep and thinking that adults and teenagers have aren’t as common. However, in adolescents, depression symptoms often manifest as anger, anxiety, and avoidance of social situations. Furthermore, children or adolescents who have already been diagnosed with certain disorders, such as anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are more susceptible to depression.
Depression in Older Adults
Senior citizens are just as likely to experience depression as other age groups, but regrettably their symptoms often go undetected or are mistaken for the aging process. For instance, fatigue and excessive sleeping are often assumed to be part of growing old, and while to an extent that is the case, many older adults are actually suffering from undiagnosed depression. Plus, many times depressed senior citizens, due to their lack of interest in pleasurable activities, simply prefer to stay at home, which is also viewed as common and normal. It is vital to note that older adult men are the most at risk for suicides relating to depression, so taking note of any depression symptoms is absolutely necessary and highly serious.
Call for Help
If you’re reading this and have recognized any of the symptoms in your life and/or you are seriously considering suicide, please call an emergency number, like 911. You may also want to contact a suicide hotline. The most important thing is that you seek out help immediately. When you feel so helpless and exhausted, making that first step can seem daunting, but your life is more than worth it.
As noted, depression can manifest itself in various ways. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it simply does not get better, and it can be life-threatening. While no two people with depression will experience it in exactly the same ways, knowing some of the most common symptoms can help determine whether you or someone you love is suffering from the disease.