Describing Depression: Warning Signs and Symptoms That Your Loved One is Suffering

April 7, 2019

The World Health Organization estimates the number of people living with depression globally at 300 millionDescribing depression is a complex task, as different people exhibit different symptoms. However, it’s been often described as living in a black hole. Unlike other illnesses, the symptoms of depression are often silent. That can make depression seem less threatening, but this is far from the truth. Depression can derail your whole life and leave you uncertain of yourself and your loved ones. If you're worried that a loved one may be struggling, keep reading to find out more about the warning signs of this terrible illness.

What is Depression?
Depression is a debilitating mood disorder that can suck the life out of the most vibrant of persons. It changes how one feels, thinks and functions in their day to day life. The causes can vary from life stressors to genetic vulnerabilities as well as ingestion of certain medications, alcohol, and drugs. Spotting the symptoms is the first step towards getting yourself, or your loved one the help they need.

Here are the key signs of depression to look out for:

1. Depressed Mood
It’s normal to feel down occasionally, especially following a stressful or sad life event like a death or a chronic illness. However, when these feelings go on for extended periods of time or appear without an obvious trigger, they might be indicative of something else. Long episodes of sadness are likelier to be possible signs of depression than to be normal blues.

2. Loss of Interest in Life
People take joy in everyday activities. This could be work or socializing or recreational activities. Depression makes people enjoy such activities less. Say someone’s favorite activity was swimming, and they suddenly do not want to go anywhere near water, or even if they do, they do not seem to derive any joy from it.

3. Feelings of Hopelessness
During hard times, people often try to find a way out or at least hope that their situation will improve. This is not the case for people going through depression. Depressed people have an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness that their situation cannot improve under any circumstances. These might be accompanied by feelings of worthlessness and guilt. You can also get a sense of low self-esteem and poor self-image.

4. Sleep Changes
Changes in sleep patterns can be a sign of depression. This can be exhibited through insomnia or disturbed sleep or sleeping too much and not wanting to get out of bed.

5. Difficulty in Concentrating
Another common symptom is having difficulties concentrating, making decisions and even remembering things. The person may struggle with simple things like watching TV or completing a thought in a conversation. They may also find it difficult to make easy decisions that do not require considerable thought.

6. Irritability
Watch out for signs of irritability, restlessness, agitation and even violence, especially when it’s atypical of the person.

7. Lethargy Often Comes Up When Describing Depression
We all have our occasional slow days where we have very low energy levels. However, people suffering from depression are lethargic for weeks on end. This makes routines tasks harder to accomplish. As a result, schoolwork or their performance at work starts to nosedive.

8. Changes in Appetite
Appetite might go to extremes. They may eat too much or lose their appetite entirely. Consequently, a person may rapidly add or lose weight.

9. Aches and Pains
Depression can manifest itself physically as well. Some physical symptoms of depression include aches and pains, including headaches, muscle tension as well as digestive problems.

10. Verbalizing Depression
At times, someone with depression will constantly allude to being depressed. If not, they might express feelings of being fed up or become strangely preoccupied with death and suicide.

What Comes Next
Depression is not something one can just snap out off. Actually, it can lead to a bigger problem if left untreated. In fact, 60% of people who commit suicide have some indications of having suffered from a mood disorder. Depression, being one of them. The good news is that depression is treatable.

Treatment for Depression
Usually there are underlying factors that cause depression. As such, the best treatments are a combination of several treatments. To treat the condition, your loved one will require support, psychotherapy and drug treatment.

This is also known as talking therapy and includes among other things, cognitive behavioral therapy, problem-solving and interpersonal therapy. Psychotherapy is usually enough for mild depression. Severe depression, however, needs medication as well. This therapy can help a patient become aware of the stressors in their life and find ways to lead a happier and healthier lifestyle. By finding a good psychologist and strictly adhering to a treatment plan, most patients get good outcomes from their treatment. But how do you find the right psychologist? Find out more on that here.

Doctors use antidepressants for moderate to severe depression. These are not prescribed to children and are only prescribed to teenagers after a thorough case-by-case evaluation. The different classes of antidepressant drugs act on different neurotransmitters and should be taken as per doctors’ orders to avoid relapse. Any concerns, side effects and intent to cease taking the drugs should be duly discussed with one's doctor.

The support aspect of treatment includes involving a patient’s support system. This can go a long way to help the patient function and keep up with their treatment plan.

Electroconvulsive Therapy
Electroconvulsive therapy is used in patients with severe depression cases that do not respond to drug treatment. This therapy is particularly effective in treating psychotic depression.

Keeping Depression at Bay
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But can depression be prevented? From its causes and prevention, depression is shrouded in mystery. So much so that even experts do not have a definitive answer as to whether its preventable or not. Most of the predisposing factors are out of your control; these include genes, chemicals in your brain, your childhood experiences and your environment. One thing that comes up when describing depression is elevated stress levels. However, you can control stress and how you manage life's challenges. Yoga, meditation and exercising can help. These are known to release feel-good hormones that can improve moods.

Laughter is also known to reduce stress hormones, release endorphins and lower depressive moods.
Are you out of ideas on how to get your loved one laughing? Read our blog for some ideas on how to find laughter in everyday life.

*If you are struggling with depression and need help- please reach out to a professional who can help walk with you through the journey. You are not alone!*

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