Depression is a medical condition brought about the chemical imbalance in the brain, as well as other factors such as medication. Although "depression" is commonly described as "feeling low," "decreased mood" or simply feeling sad, it actually pertains to a serious illness that may be treated, but not cured. Depressed individuals are less active in school, home, and work, and the illness is likely to affect their emotions, eating and sleeping habits, and social relationships negatively.
Depression occurs once in some individuals, but may reoccur in others. The illness is usually recognized through its observable symptoms. This article deals with the various symptoms that may indicate a worsening, debilitating mental illness.
Significant emotional changes are observed in depressed individuals. These changes in turn affect everyday activities and social relations. The most common symptom is a feeling of being overwhelmed by sadness or fear, or in some individuals, complete apathy. Depressed individuals may be unable to enjoy activities they used to fine pleasurable, such as conversation with friends, hobbies, or even sex.
Depressed individuals are also content in being alone. They may think badly of themselves, believing they are inadequate, helpless, or hopeless, among other negative labels. They may avoid or refuse dealing with their peers. Strained relationships with friends may cause the mental illness to worsen unchecked.
Marked impatience and irritability are also symptoms of depression. Depressed individuals suffer mood swings and anxiety attacks, and may easily get angry at the slightest provocation. In some cases, this results in aggressive behavior that leads to an addiction to sex, alcohol, or drugs. They also experience difficulty in thinking clearly, hampering their performance in school or work.
Depression also manifests itself through physical changes in a sufferer's body. Depressed individuals may feel a compulsion to overeat - or conversely, lose their appetite - resulting in a sudden increase or decrease in weight. Changes in sleep patterns are also evident, as depressed individuals may either sleep too much or find it hard to fall asleep. There is also a noticeable lack of interest in hygiene and personal grooming.
Unexplained physical pain, such as muscle fatigue, headaches, and abdominal discomfort may also signal the onset of depression. If these discomforts appear without warning, and is accompanied by a change in the individual's disposition as well, it is usually a sign of an underlying depression.
Severe forms of depression may cause the individual to harbor thoughts of death or dying, and may even attempt suicide. Cases of such attempts have been observed throughout history and is a recognized symptom of depression. Consultation and medication is imperative at this point.
While depression mostly hits young adults, cases of depression in children have also been observed. Some children are not as well-equipped as their peers in adapting to changes in their environment, such as going to school for the first time. Symptoms of childhood depression are similar to the symptoms that adult sufferers show. Children with depression may not be aware of their condition, and will have to depend on adults to recognize the condition.