Is there any illness that has been subject to a greater number of unhelpful myths than depression? We’re sure you’ve heard a lot of them – that clinical depression or a major depressive disorder is something that you can “snap out of”, for example, or that “tough” people or those with lots of money and good health don’t suffer from it.
Well, here’s the lowdown – depression is a real illness and it can strike anyone, at any time – even those who would seem to “have it all”.
Here are 10 of the most frequent symptoms to keep an eye out for, although it’s worth bearing in mind that you don’t need to have all or even most of these symptoms to be suffering from depression.
A constant depressed mood
We aren’t just talking about “feeling a bit down” here – we all go through phases like that, which tend to go away with time. But if you spend most or all of your days in a depressed mood – whether that might manifest as feeling sad, blue, empty or if you are an adolescent, even irritable or cranky – you should seriously consider whether you could be suffering from depression.
We’re referring here to things like being continually restless, unable to stay still or even pulling at clothes – not just in understandable circumstances such as when you’re dating someone, but nearly every day. Again, it could be a real sign of depression.
This is the direct opposite of the kind of behavior described in point two – so think things like slowed speech, quiet talking and just generally taking longer to do everything that is usually the case for you.
Do you relentlessly “beat yourself up” over perceived mistakes that are actually pretty minor or understandable in the grand scheme of things? Yep, having such strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness that you are continually harshly criticizing yourself could be another key indicator of a major depressive disorder.
Unexplained aches and pains
If you seem to be constantly complaining about physical problems such as headaches, back pain, stomach pain or aching muscles – indeed, there might be a new thing every day – you might want to consider that your mind and your body are by no means completely separate elements.
You might find it hard to get to sleep in the first place, or it may be that you frequently wake up ridiculously early compared to what is usual for you, or constantly oversleep. Yes, your ability to catch those all-important Zs – or inability, as it may be – can also say a lot about whether depression may be looming for you.
Fatigue, tiredness or loss of energy
Are those modest everyday tasks like dressing yourself or washing up, that you used to be able to do while barely breaking into sweat, suddenly becoming more difficult for you to do, or inexplicably taking more time out of your day? Maybe you just don’t seem to have the energy for things that you used to have, even when you’re getting a decent amount of sleep each night and there’s no other obvious physical reason for your sluggishness.
Loss of interest in activities that you once loved
Maybe you used to be an enthusiastic amateur artist or walk five miles a day, but now don’t seem to see what the point of it is anymore. Of course, it’s natural that our interests and hobbies might change over time. However, if the things that you once gained so much pleasure from in life – also including sex – all seem to have lost their appeal and you just can’t seem to feel joy or pleasure in general anymore, you should ask yourself whether it may be another sign of clinical depression.
Anger or irritability
Does it seem that literally everything gets on your nerves these days? Perhaps a work colleague or family member might make a minor mistake that causes you to snap at them or even become violent. It should not be seen as normal or healthy to be continually hot-tempered or agitated in response to even the most insignificant inconveniences, and it’s certainly one of the most common signs of depression.
An inability to concentrate
Have you missed work deadlines a fair bit lately, drawing an angry rebuke from your boss? Maybe you forgot a relative’s birthday or another special date or occasion that, if you weren’t depressed, would otherwise be easily remembered by you. If you just can’t seem to focus or make decisions, we would suggest that – when combined with the above symptoms in particular – clinical depression may be to blame.
It’s important to remember that the above is definitely not an exhaustive list of all of the depressive symptoms from which you could potentially suffer. You should also be careful not to mistake some of the normal ups and downs of life for the more serious signs of a depressive disorder.
Nonetheless, if you are experiencing some of the above symptoms especially strongly and have done so for a sustained period of time, it is vital that you consult a doctor for advice and a possible diagnosis. Depression can be treated, and you should not simply suffer alone.
What have been some of your own experiences with depression, if you have had them, and how have you dealt with them? How is your condition right now? If you feel comfortable with sharing, we would appreciate it if you let us know in the comments section below.