The 10 Symptoms Of Depression
But what exactly are the symptoms of depression? To diagnose depression, psychotherapists and doctors usually use the ICD-10, a classification system for diseases published by the World Health Organization . In the US a different manual is used, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . It works the same way. Both manuals distinguish between so-called core and additional symptoms of depression, which can exhibit themselves in different combinations.
Depression in two different people can look very different because not every depressive episode exhibits the same combination of symptoms. These many individual variations are one of the reasons why depression often goes unrecognized.
There are three core symptoms characteristic of depression:
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest and joy in things
- Loss of drive, lack of energy
This dejection, very common to depression, can go so far that the mood of those affected by it does not even brighten up with positive events. Attempts of friends and family to comfort or cheer up people with depression often only create more tension and feelings of guilt. This can also burden relationships quite a bit. Some feel like they cant cry anymore, others cry a lot more than usual.
Life Events And Depression
Research suggests that continuing difficulties, such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness or prolonged exposure to stress at work can increase the risk of depression.
Significant adverse life events, such as losing a job, going through a separation or divorce, or being diagnosed with a serious illness, may also trigger depression, particularly among people who are already at risk because of genetic, developmental or other personal factors.
Are There Warning Signs Of Suicide With Depression
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Suicidal thoughts or intentions are serious. Warning signs include:
- A sudden switch from sadness to extreme calmness, or appearing to be happy
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression that gets worse
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, like tying up loose ends or changing a will
- Saying things like “It would be better if I weren’t here” or “I want out”
- Talking about suicide
- Visiting or calling close friends and loved ones
If you or someone you know shows any of the above warning signs, call your local suicide hotline, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room.
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What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause
Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:
- disturbed sleep,
- difficulties with work and your hobbies,
- difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.
Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.
If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.
Antenatal And Postnatal Depression
Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy and in the year following childbirth . This time frame may also be referred to as the perinatal period.
The causes of depression at this time can be complex and are often the result of a combination of factors. In the days immediately following birth, many women experience the baby blues, which is a common condition related to hormonal changes, affecting up to 80 per cent of women who have given birth.
The baby blues, or the general stress of adjusting to pregnancy or a new baby, are common experiences, but are different from depression.
Depression is longer lasting and can affect not only the mother, but her relationship with her baby, the childs development, the mothers relationship with her partner and with other members of the family.
Up to one in 10 women will experience depression during pregnancy. This increases to 16 per cent in the first three months after having a baby.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Dysthymia
Dysthymia is milder, yet more long lasting than major depression. Each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Less ability to concentrate, think, and/or make decisions
- Less energy
- Feeling hopeless
- Weight and/or appetite changes due to over- or under-eating
- Changes in sleep patterns, such as fitful sleep, inability to sleep, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
- Low self-esteem
To diagnose this condition, an adult must have a depressed mood for at least 2 years , along with at least 2 of the above symptoms. The symptoms of this illness may look like other mental health conditions. Always talk with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Are There Other Therapies To Treat Symptoms Of Depression
There are other treatments your doctor may consider. Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a treatment option for people whose symptoms don’t get better with medicine or who have severe depression and need treatment right away.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, involves using a noninvasive device that is held above the head to induce the magnetic field. It targets a specific part of the brain that can trigger depression.
With vagus nerve stimulation, or VMS, a pacemaker-like device is surgically implanted under the collarbone to deliver regular impulses to the brain.
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Risk Factors That Can Make You More Vulnerable
Depression most often results from a combination of factors, rather than one single cause. For example, if you went through a divorce, were diagnosed with a serious medical condition, or lost your job, the stress could prompt you to start drinking more, which in turn could cause you to withdraw from family and friends. Those factors combined could then trigger depression.
The following are examples of risk factors that can make you more susceptible:
Loneliness and isolation. Theres a strong relationship between loneliness and depression. Not only can lack of social support heighten your risk, but having depression can cause you to withdraw from others, exacerbating feelings of isolation. Having close friends or family to talk to can help you maintain perspective on your issues and avoid having to deal with problems alone.
. While a network of strong and supportive relationships can be crucial to good mental health, troubled, unhappy, or abusive relationships can have the opposite effect and increase your risk for depression.
Recent stressful life experiences. Major life changes, such as a bereavement, divorce, unemployment, or financial problems can often bring overwhelming levels of stress and increase your risk of developing depression.
Chronic illness or pain. Unmanaged pain or being diagnosed with a serious illness, such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, can trigger feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
What Its Really Like Going Through A Deep Dark Depression
I thought everyone Googled suicide methods from time to time. They dont. Heres how Ive recovered from a dark depression.
How we see the world shapes who we choose to be and sharing compelling experiences can frame the way we treat each other, for the better. This is a powerful perspective.
In early October 2017, I found myself sitting in my therapists office for an emergency session.
She explained that I was going through a major depressive episode.
Id experienced similar feelings of depression in high school, but they were never this intense.
Earlier in 2017, my anxiety had started to interfere with my daily life. So, for the first time, Id sought out a therapist.
Growing up in the Midwest, therapy was never discussed. It wasnt until I was in my new home of Los Angeles and met people who saw a therapist that I decided to try it myself.
I was so lucky to have an established therapist when I sunk into this deep depression.
I couldnt imagine having to find help when I could barely get out of bed in the morning.
I probably wouldnt have even tried, and I sometimes wonder what wouldve happened to me if I hadnt sought professional help before my episode.
Ive always had mild depression and anxiety, but my mental health had rapidly declined that fall.
It would take me close to 30 minutes to coax myself out of bed. The only reason I would even get up was because I had to walk my dog and go to my full-time job.
My spark just seemed to fizzle.
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Suicidal Thoughts: An Emergency
For people who are severely depressed, suicide is a real threat. Each year, about 30,000 people in the U.S. take their own lives, although the true number may be higher. Some suicides go unrecognized because they’re classified as accidents, drug overdoses, or shootings. Among people whose depression remains untreated, up to 15% will kill themselves.
What are the warning signs of suicide? According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, they include:
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill yourself
- Looking for a way to kill yourself, such as searching online for methods or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor to see if they can suggest changes,
- get an advocate to help you speak your doctor,
- ask for a second opinion if you feel it would help,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
An advocate is independent from the NHS. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like. They arent available in all areas.
You can ask an advocate to help you make a complaint. Advocates that do this are called NHS complaints advocates. They are free to use and don t work for the NHS. They re available in all areas.
You can search online to search for a local advocacy service. If you cant find a service you can call our advice service 0808 801 0525 . You can email us too at . We will look for you.
Talk to your doctor about your treatment to see if you can resolve the problem with them first. If you dont agree with their decisions about diagnosis or treatment, you could ask for a second opinion. You are not legally entitled to a second opinion, but your doctor might agree to it if it would help with treatment options.
- Advocacy by clicking here.
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What Does Severe Depression Feel Like
Severe depression is classified as having the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, but the symptoms are severe and noticeable, even to your loved ones.
Episodes of major depression last an average of six months or longer. Sometimes severe depression can go away after a while, but it can also be recurrent for some people.
Diagnosis is especially crucial in severe depression, and it may even be time-sensitive.
Major forms of depression may also cause:
- suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Severe depression requires medical treatment as soon as possible. Your doctor will likely recommend an SSRI and some form of talk therapy.
If youre experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, you should seek immediate medical attention. Call your local emergency services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 right away.
The Taboo Behind Depression
Interestingly, physical symptoms seem to occur a bit more often in men. There is evidence to suggest that some men experience depression very differently: the so-called male depression which is filled with very different challenges. One of the essential challenges is that men feel they face a taboo. Accepting help and admitting vulnerability can feel overwhelming.
However, depression is regarded as an official disorder which health insurances cover therapy for. It is important to take depression symptoms seriously and to consider professional help especially if the mood does not improve even after a long time or if there is no apparent reason for the deep sadness. You feel like you are experiencing some of these symptoms but dont know where to start? Try out our App Moodpath for free!
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But You Feel Guilty If You Feel Okay
Theres a common misconception that if someone is depressed, they never feel okay and never smile. This can leave sufferers feeling confused and guilty during respite periods:
I was signed off work for depression, but here I was walking through the park enjoying the sunshine and the bird song. I felt like a total shirker as I thought of my colleagues back at the office picking up my workload. The day before I had not left my bed and, as it turned out, that was also true of the day after too, but right then I felt okay and I felt guilty for feeling okay.
What Does Depression Physically Feel Like
For people with depression, it can be a truly difficult task to explain their condition. Because it is a disease that is more commonly associated with mental symptoms — not outward, physical ones –those on the outside are often curious about what depression feels like. And it certainly feels like something: “In general, the worse the painful physical symptoms, the more severe the depression,” researchers wrote in an overview of depression and physical symptoms in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. “Symptoms have been found to increase the duration of depressed mood.”
In fact, patients often first complain of physical symptoms to a primary care physician, making depression more apt to be misdiagnosed.
That’s what makes discussions about the physical experience of being depressed all the more important. In this regard, look no further than forums on Reddit, in which those who have struggled can commune over the truly all-encompassing physical reality of their illness.
We chose a few of their honest descriptions and illustrated them in an attempt to gain some insight into the experience.
“When I’m on my lows, my girlfriend says it’s like I’m on autopilot.”
“Physically to me, it feels like someone with an army boot is pressing down on my chest.”
“I always likened it to trying to run up a hill made of mud, every bit of progress you seem to make, you just slide right back down.”
“I don’t remember that last time I didn’t feel like a tiny black hole.”
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How To Tell If You Have Depression
Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms.
They range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.
There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.
The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living.
Most people experience feelings of stress, anxiety or low mood during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short period of time, rather than being a sign of depression.
How It Feels According To People With Depression
Some people ask me this question for comfort and to ensure that they are not alone with their experience, while others feel so confused by their tumultuous feelings that they struggle to clearly identify their inner experience, she says.
With that in mind, here are some of the responses Magavi hears in her sessions:
- “Depression feels like a weight on my chest, which brings me down everywhere I go.”
- “Depression is receiving praise at work but still feeling worthless.”
- “Depression is the loneliness I feel when I see other couples and families laughing and enjoying their lives.”
- “Depression is feeling like I am a failure as a person, family member, and friend.”
- “Depression is when I cannot take care of my children because I cannot take care of myself.”
- “Depression is not brushing my hair and teeth because I simply cannot move.”
- “Depression is smiling when others laugh, hiding behind the fabricated mask, and wishing I could just disappear.”
- “Depression is my life and shadow, which haunts me every day.”
Christian Sismone, someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety her entire life, says its important to provide a non-clinical perspective. She shares these examples:
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What Depression May Feel Like
Many people believe that depression needs to be debilitating and cause significant problems in their life in order to seek help. What they dont realize is that some of the more subtle signs of this disorder are often the first indication that something is going on. Here are some examples of how depression may feel to you.
Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.