Everybody goes through certain periods of “feeling down” or has a bout with “the blues.” Stress and anxiety from work and family life can cause frustration from time to time and are a normal response to dealing with life’s challenges. It is when these negative feelings persist over time, however, that they can be an indicator of something more serious, like the beginning of depression symptoms.
Clinical depression is more common than you may think. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association estimates that 25 percent of women and 12 percent of men will develop major depression symptoms over the course of their lifetime. At these rates, it is likely that you or someone you know will struggle with depression symptoms at some point, which is why it is important to know some of the most common symptoms of depression.
Key indicators of depression symptoms
For some individuals, the feelings they have and the depression symptoms they exhibit may be so severe that it’s obvious that what they’re going through is beyond a temporary mood swing. For others, however, they may just feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why. For all of these reasons, it is important to know some of the more common depression symptoms, which are:
- Feelings of sadness or melancholy. This may be represented by a sustained and pervasive sense of unhappiness. It may also include an unusual irritability or frustration, even over small problems.
- Lack of pleasure or interest in activities previously enjoyed. Little to no interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities or sex are common depression symptoms. This may include one’s attitude toward diet and appetite, and significant weight loss or gain—as represented by a change of more than 5 percent of body weight in a month, for example—are both commonly attributed to depression.
- Self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness. It is common for a person with depression symptoms to regularly self-criticize for perceived faults and dwell on mistakes. This may present itself in the form of fixating on past failures or blaming oneself when things are not going well.
- Physical and/or mental exhaustion. This is often demonstrated by unusual fatigue, tiredness and a loss of energy. The person’s whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks may seem exhausting or take longer to complete. Exhaustion may be connected to both insomnia and excessive sleeping, as both are common in patients exhibiting depression symptoms. Other physical manifestations of depression may show themselves in the form of increased incidence of headaches, back pain, aching muscles and stomach pain.
- Thoughts of not going on, or even death. This is one of the most serious depression symptoms at any age. Suicidal thinking is a sign of serious depression that should never be taken lightly. Of all people with depression, older adult men are at the highest risk of successfully committing suicide. If you are seriously considering suicide, it is important to seek emergency psychiatric care, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room to get help, because depression symptoms are treatable. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can also be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.
There’s no reason to lose hope to alleviate your depression symptoms
It is important to remember that depression is a medical illness that affects both the mind and the body. Like other major illnesses, it usually requires professional treatment.
If you feel that you have these depression symptoms and that you may need depression help, including those suffering from prenatal depression, consider contacting your general doctor to get a referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Article content, © Kira Stein, MD, APC. | West Coast Life Center