Every year on average, one in four people in the UK suffer from some kind of mental health problem, anxiety and depression being the most common disorders. There has been a tenfold increase in depression since the Second World War the main form of depression is known as clinical depression. So what are the symptoms of clinical depression?
Feeling hopeless and lack of interest in the things you once liked doing - There's no point in doing anything because nothing's important anymore. Black and white thinking - "it's all bad," or "I knew this would happen, nothing good ever happens to me."
Feeling Sad and emotional for little or no apparent reason - Feeling sorry for yourself - "I don't know why I keep crying, I never used to be like this."
Sleeping problems and feeling tired - Staying too long in the REM stage (the intense dreaming stage) of sleep is a major symptom of clinical depression. When we sleep we ruminate - process unfulfilled thoughts we had during the day. Some of these thoughts come to us in the form of nightmares in the REM sleep stage. If we stay too long in this stage we don't get enough deep sleep. We wake up in the morning tired as if we haven't slept much at all - even though we may have had a lot of sleep.
Becoming irritable or easily annoyed - Making 'mountains out of molehills' and overdramatising trivial negative issues. Low tolerance of other people, especially at parties or in crowds. Getting angry because someone annoyed us such as being stuck behind a slow driver then over-reacting by beeping the horn constantly.
Trouble concentrating - The mind wanders and you begin thinking about negative things. Dwelling on the negative starts a train of thoughts about past hurts or regrets and you get caught up in its cycle.
Weight gain or weight loss - When someone is depressed others may notice that they have lost or gained weight, according to their metabolism, even though the depressed person may not even be aware of this. Another symptom of depression is lack of appetite hence the weight loss. The other end extreme is to overeat.
Feeling worthless - This is a symptom of depression common in people who have lost a job in the past and still haven't got over it. Feeling worthless is linked to lack of hope, the clinically depressed person focuses their attention inwards and my blame themselves for being 'inadequate'.
Lack of interest in sex - The clinically depressed person may not feel worthy of their partner because they feel they aren't good enough for their partner anymore. If they've been dwelling on the hopelessness of their life it could interfere with their sex lives - "nothing interests me anymore - not even sex."
Suicidal thoughts - More people than you might expect have thoughts of suicide one or even a few times in their lives for a variety of reasons. A clinical depression sufferer who feels that life isn't worth living may become suicidal.
If you have one or more of the symptoms of clinical depression above it could be possible that it may only a temporary detour on life's highway. If the symptoms persist however it may be worth seeing your gp or a qualified therapist or both.
One of the problems depression sufferers face is that if they are feeling hopeless and worthless they may not even notice or care about getting help. The onus should then fall on a family member or friend to step in and help.
Recovery from depression can take time but with the right care and support life will become rosier and more purposeful again.