How to Recognize Depression
Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming. But no matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. By understanding the cause of your depression and recognizing the different symptoms and types of depression, you can take the first step to feel better and overcome the problem.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a common and debilitating mood disorder. More than just sadness in response to life’s struggles and setbacks, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness can be intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.
While some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. No matter how you experience depression, left untreated it can become a serious health condition. But it's so important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation.
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they have lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression.
Symptoms can include:
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
Depression and Suicide Risk
Depression left untreated can also be a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that go along with 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 seek help immediately. Let them know your concerns. Talking openly about your concerns can save a life.
If you think you or a loved one are dealing with depression, contact Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness to make an appointment to speak to one of our physicians. We can provide the evaluation, support, and treatment you need to get you feeling good about life again. Contact us today for an appointment at 301-881-9464.