“Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.” This quote by J. K. Rowling correctly dispels the confusion that regular sadness or a low feeling is not tantamount to depression. Thus, depression is beyond sadness and a much intense condition.
Only a person suffering from the mental problem will be able to understand how it feels to be depressed. Recurrent melancholic thoughts, affinity toward death and preference for solitude are some apparent signs of depression.
However, the symptoms of depression are not the same every time and with everybody, therefore, it often becomes hard to determine the condition. In fact, its tendency to manifest differently in different people makes the diagnosis even tougher.
As a result, there is a probability that individuals suffering from depression might remain oblivious of the condition and would come to know of it only when the problem starts making life complicated.
Affecting more than 15 million (6.7 percent) people in the United States in a given year, as highlighted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), depression is more common than presumed. Depression is a potentially debilitating condition with powers to cause fatal consequences.
Despite visible symptoms and impairing consequences, many remain blind to their developing depression. Also, an individual cannot be blamed for being unaware because depression works silently.
In fact, it is a silent killer caused due to both environmental and physiological factors, depression can occur to people of any age, gender, caste, creed religion or status. Therefore, one needs to be cautious and vigilant to identify the condition.
Below are some of the signs that can help understand depression
Feeling of persistent sadness:
Prolonged sadness (mostly that extends for more than two weeks) is one of the major symptoms of depression. Unlike normal sadness, depression does not subside with time, instead it grows to give rise to feelings of hopelessness and grief to an extent that they start creating hurdles in regular day activities. An individual would always experience a sinking feeling. As a result, the person becomes more critical and judgmental and would tend to blame self for every cause and worry. In such a condition, some do experience sudden shift in their mood. Hence, if an individual notices a sustained period of lowness, he/she should immediately seek medical help.
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
People suffering from depression also tend to distance themselves from their hobbies and activities of interest because they can no more draw any pleasure out of them. Therefore, a person might want to sit idle with wandering thoughts. The patient would also feel isolated and disconnected, and would become numb with amorphous misery. Such sudden loss of interest can indicate depression.
Change in eating and sleeping patterns: Change in appetite as well as sleeping patterns are the most evident symptoms of depression. Depending on the manifestation of the depression, an individual can either start over eating or can completely give up on food. Similarly, some people experience elongated sleep hours while some people develop insomnia when suffering from depression. Although, there could be various other reasons for the change in patterns, the underlying depression is most likely to be one of the causes.
Fatigue and decreased libido
Decrease in energy is another major tell-tale symptom of depression. People suffering from the disorder feel more tired. As a result, they get lethargic and exhausted easily and do not make efforts to complete even the regular chores. This further impacts their libido as well. In fact, they also find being in a relationship worthless. A person might also experience a decrease in the libido level due to hormonal changes caused by the mental problem.
Random body aches and pains
Depression affects the body as much as it hampers the mind. With uncertainty in its way of occurrence, depression can also manifest itself in physical aches and pains that offer no obvious cause. In fact, vague aches and pain are often the obvious symptoms of depression. According to an article published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), physical pain and depression have a deeper biological connection because they both share a common neurochemical pathway influenced by neurotransmitters – serotonin and norepinephrine.
Therefore, any dysregulation in these transmitters is linked to both depression and pain. As a result, people suffering from depression often complain of random pains, including joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, psychomotor activity changes and appetite changes. One should not ignore his/her random body aches.
Seeking treatment for depression
Depression is often considered a result of weak moral or will. But people fail to realize that it is more intense, severe and hazardous. It is a debilitating condition, which needs immediate medical intervention. Depression can occur due to wide range of factors – starting from mental setback, environmental conditions, heart-breaking experience to genetics. Against the common notion that it gets better with time, depression is degenerative in nature that exacerbates with time, if left untreated. The condition can lead to other chronic mental conditions and give rise to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. It can also force a person to self-medicate using illicit drugs or alcohol. Though these remedies can provide relief and comfort, the respite would be temporary. On the hand, such self-medication can eventually lead to addiction.
Therefore, it is important to treat depression at the earliest to prevent fatal outcomes. Medication (anti-depressants), therapies and counseling can help manage the condition. However, the treatment should be strictly carried out under medical supervision. One should accept the problem and should seek timely treatment with a positive mind in order to fight back the mental condition. One should not be affected by the discrimination and stigma associated with any mental condition and should be optimist about leading a healthy and happy life.