Most people feel anxious or depressed at times. Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and various other difficult situations can lead a person to feeling sad, lonely, scared, nervous, or anxious. These feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors. But some people experience these feelings daily or nearly daily for no apparent reason, making it difficult to carry on with normal, everyday functioning.
Clinical depression is more than just the “blues”, “being down in the dumps,” or experiencing temporary feelings of sadness. It is a serious condition that affects a person’s mind and body. It may impact many aspects of everyday life including eating, sleeping, working, relationships, and how a person thinks about himself/herself. People who are clinically depressed cannot simply will themselves to feel better or just “snap out of it.” If they do not receive appropriate treatment their symptoms can continue for weeks, months, or ultimately culminate in complete debilitation.
People who are depressed find daily tasks to be a significant struggle. They tire easily, yet cannot get a good night’s sleep. They have no motivation and lose interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Depression places a dark, gloomy cloud over how we see the world, our future, and ourselves. This cloud cannot be willed away, nor can we ignore it and have it magically disappear.
Depression does not discriminate.
Men and women of every age, educational level, and social and economic background suffer from depression. There is no area of life that does not suffer when depression is present. Marriage, parenting, friendships, careers, finances; every aspect of daily living is compromised by this disease. Once an episode of depression occurs, it is also quite likely that it may reappear. And the impact of depression can be even more severe when it occurs in combination with other medical illnesses such as diabetes, stroke, cardiovascular disease, or with related disorders such as anxiety or substance abuse.
The problems caused by depression are made worse by the fact that most people suffering from the disease are never diagnosed, let alone treated. The good news is that when depression is promptly identified and treated, its symptoms are manageable and there are many effective strategies for living with the disease. Depression and bipolar disorder are both treated most effectively in their earliest stages when symptoms are less severe.
There are several strategies for treating depression. Depending upon each individual’s unique characteristics and symptoms, healthcare professionals may employ one or more psychotherapy approaches based upon interpersonal treatment. In addition, clinicians may incorporate lifestyle changes, including improvements in sleeping and eating habits, physical activity and stress reduction, as they have proven very helpful in managing symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?
Depression commonly affects your thoughts, emotions, behaviors and overall physical health. Here are some of the most common symptoms that point to the presence of depression. An occurrence of any one of these symptoms on its own does not constitute depression.
• Angry outbursts
• Loss of interest in friends, family and favorite activities, including sex
• Trouble concentrating
• Trouble making decisions
• Trouble remembering
• Thoughts of harming yourself
• Delusions and/or hallucinations can also occur in cases of severe depression
• Withdrawing from people
• Substance abuse
• Missing work, school or other commitments
• Attempts to harm yourself
• Tiredness or lack of energy
• Unexplained aches and pains
• Changes in appetite
• Weight loss
• Weight gain
• Changes in sleep – sleeping too little or too much
• Sexual problems
Of course, all of us can expect to experience one or more of these symptoms on occasion. An occurrence of any one of these symptoms on its own does not constitute depression.