Symptoms are the things that a person feels. For example a person may feel pain from a burn or may feel dejected because of a bad experience.
Signs are what others observe. Examples of these are when one person observes another person exhibiting the signs of apparently being in pain for some reason, or when they notice that somebody is not being their usually bright self with a positive outlook on life.
If you feel that you may be suffering from depression then you will need to check out your feelings as well as your actions.
If you are concerned that a loved one may be depressed, you will need to observe their behavior and make judgments about how they may be feeling. It may even be advisable to ask the person how they are feeling. However, you may get a vague response and even a sharp retort. Your ability to use tact may be put to the test.
Before we proceed, we need to realize that short term feelings of "the blues" are quite common and do not necessarily constitute a state of depression. Things such as, the death of a loved one, a failed relationship, the loss of a job, or the disappointment of missing out on a promotion, etc., can make us feel sad for quite a while. However, time tends to heal most wounds and we generally pick ourselves up and get on with life again. It is when a reasonable amount of time has passed, and the condition has not improved, that we need to consider the possibility of depression.
Let us look at the symptoms of depression:-
* Low self esteem.
* Inability to sleep well at night. Managing to get to sleep but often waking in the early hours
and unable to return to sleep.
* Oversleeping or wanting to sleep during the day.
* Constant feelings of fatigue.
* Being unable to enjoy life as well as you used to. [Chronic low grade depression].
* Not being able to function to the best of your capabilities.
The symptoms mentioned above are typical of the depression condition known as dysthymia, or as the ancient Greeks called it, ill humor. It usually has a slow onset and persists for two years or more.
With more severe cases of depression [clinical, or major, depression] some of the following symptoms will also be noted:-
* Change of mood from being ill humored at the beginning of the day to being much better at the end of the day.
* A change in appetite. Appetite may decrease and result in weight loss in many cases, especially in older people. In other cases binge eating may occur and weight may increase.
* A lack of interest in hobbies and other interests. You just cannot be bothered doing what you used to enjoy in the past.
* A loss of libido. Sexual activities diminish or cease.
* Feeling sad or crying for no apparent reason.
* Having feelings of shame, guilt and/or worthlessness.
* Feeling vulnerable or anxious.
* Feeling overwhelmed, or that you are lost in a fog or in a deep chasm.
* Inability to make decisions or to concentrate on a subject.
* Becoming withdrawn from society, including family and friends. Wanting to be alone and then often feeling rejected when you are left alone.
* Being easily agitated and angry.
* Failing to look after yourself [appearances, hygiene, well being etc.].
* Considering, or causing, self harm. This can culminate in suicide in severe cases. Statistics suggest that 80% of suicides relate to people who were suffering from depression.
The above sets of conditions are known as unipolar conditions.
When a person experiences extreme mood swings from being "on top of the world" to being "down in the dumps" this is known as bipolar condition and was previously called "manic depression".
Depression can be cured, and because suicide is a real possibility you need to seek help very soon if you are suffering from it. Talk to somebody about your feelings because a problem shared is a problem halved. I am sure that you will find a sympathetic ear without too much trouble.
Make sure that one such person is a doctor. One factor associated with depression is often an imbalance of chemicals within the body. Doctors can provide quick relief with the modern medications that are available nowadays. More on this, and causes of the imbalance, will be in future articles.
If you have a loved one whom you consider to be in need of help, you will have to use a lot of tact and discretion when broaching the subject. Perhaps drawing their attention to this article may be useful.
The first step to recovery is to acknowledge that help is needed and that it is readily available. Remember that when a person has reached the bottom of a pit the only direction left to go is up.