Depression is actually a kind of extreme sadness, feelings of disconnection from life, as well as a diminished enjoyment in the stuff that you used to love in everyday life. It is not a sign of weakness, everyone goes through depression at some point in life or another. Even though the severity and length of the depression can vary in accordance with the situation and the root cause of the depression.
Unfortunately severe depression could lead to suicide, identifying the symptoms of a suicidal person or seeing the signs and symptoms in yourself can help to save a life. The symptoms shown by a suicidal person are listed below:
- Always thinking about, talking about, or writing about death or dying
- Reckless behavior that could result in injury or death, actions that portray a so called "Death Wish"
- Contacting loved ones either in person or remotely, in a way that seems unusual, like they are saying goodbye
- Talking about "Wanting out" or that things would be better without the person here.
- Talk of ending one's life, suicide
- Signs of Clinical Depression (changes in sleeping or eating habits, sadness) that seem to be getting worse
- loss of interest in things one used to love
- Talking about things being 'hopeless', or that the individual is worthless, or feels helpless
- Putting life's affairs in order as if the person expects to die soon
- A sharp change from being sad and depressed to being happy and calm
If you, or somebody you know is showing any one of these symptoms please seek help immediately. You can call any of the following numbers:
- 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
- 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
- 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889) (for the hearing impaired)
You can even call 911, a relative or friend or go to a local emergency room. Please remember life is not hopeless, and things will get better. People are here to help you, you don't have to do this alone.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can effect everyone differently depending on the person involved and the situation that caused the depression. Below is a listing of common signs of depression:
- Changes in sleeping patterns, Sleeping longer then normal, Insomnia, or waking up earlier then usual
- Losing interest in activities you used to find enjoyable
- Changes in appetite, reduced appetite or over eating
- Loss of concentration, difficulty remembering things or difficulty making decisions
- Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilt ridden, sad, anxious, empty or pessimistic
- Cranky, irritable or restless disposition
- Physical pain, cramps headache or stomach issues that don't seem to go away
- General decrease in energy level, feeling tired or worn out all the time
- Crying spells for no apparent reason
- Suicidal thoughts, feelings or attempts (Please see section above on Suicide Symptoms)
Unfortunately not everyone will experience the same symptoms for the same causes. For instance most men will suffer symptoms of loss of interest in activities, feel cranky and restless, together with have physical pain and sleep problems. Women are more likely to over eat, and feel a sense of worthlessness and have a tendency to sleep too much. To complicate things, the signs and symptoms of depression can vary based upon how old you are. Teenagers for instance or more likely to be irritable and angry, and suffer a loss of concentration and might have physical symptoms of pains for no reason. Older adults however, generally suffer feelings of worthlessness and sadness, along with physical pain. Unfortunately in both teenagers and older adults, the signs and symptoms usually get brushed off as being merely a sign of how old they are and not as signs and symptoms of depression.
Types of Depression
There are numerous forms of depression, each may have a different cause and a different treatment. However, if you are struggling with just about any depression or general sense of sadness, worthlessness, or a loss of interesting in stuff you love, you may need to visit a doctor. Some kinds of depression are easily treated and could be taken care of without medication, but others are more quickly relieved with the aid of a doctor.
Major Depression is an overwhelming sensation of sadness, in addition to a decrease of interest and in most cases one of numerous symptoms in the above list. The most important thing that separates this kind of depression from other forms is that Major Depression is an almost constant state of being for a prolonged time period. Everyone has a day where they simply feel down and don't want to do anything, but a person being affected by major depression will feel very down for weeks or months at any given time with no real break in the feeling. Other kinds of depression will have lulls throughout the day where the feelings of depression seem to lift and you can be generally happy, they may not last very long but they are there, major depression doesn't have those lulls. If you are suffering from Major Depression I would definitely suggest you go visit a doctor, in addition to speak to friends regarding how you're feeling. I would also suggest you start to exercise more as exercise increases your serotonin levels and help you to get out many of the things that you're feeling.
Mild depression which is also called Dysthymia, is described as feelings of depression that aren't as severe as major depression but last for years at any given time. This constant low grade depression has a tendency to impact your general level of enjoyment in life and could be easily dismissed as simply being your outlook on life. The fact is that if you have gone two years if not more with symptoms of depression as well as not being able to remember a time when you were happy you are most likely suffering from mild depression. In my own case I used to be depressed for several years, I just felt that it was how I was, just my state of being. I felt like I had lost a part of myself that I was enthusiastic about and that it merely wasn't going to come back. I needed to have a friend point out that feeling like that wasn't part of growing up, or simply a part of the situations I was in at that point in my life, but actually a sign of depression. In this instance, seeing your doctor might be a wise decision, along with some changes in your diet, sleeping habits and fitness level. For me, making sure I got 8 hours of sleep every night, working out at least three times a week for an hour (although I work out more frequently now), and starting a meditation routine was enough to drag me out of it. But you should always speak with a doctor, they may have some tips for you depending on your current physical condition that might be more helpful then exactly what is listed above.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD (what a cheerful acronym) is a type of depression usually linked to the change in seasons, from summer to winter, and climates which may have dreary, gloomy weather. The change in seasons, which usually brings with it longer darker nights, less sunlight, and gloomier weather tends to cause a sense of depression in certain people. Women look like they're effected more then men by Seasonal Affective Disorder, but everyone can be effected by it from time to time. Fortunately, in the majority of people Seasonal Affective Disorder might be effectively treated with light therapy. Light therapy, although there may very well be different levels, basically involves exposing the individual to bright artificial lights to be able to cope with the depression. This can be done at your home by just installing light bulbs with a slightly higher wattage. Some people also like to use tanning beds as a technique of managing Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just don't over do it in the tanning beds. Additionally, it wouldn't hurt to ask your doctor's opinion on approaches to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Postpartum Depression is a kind of depression that affects new mothers after giving birth. Although some feelings of being down are expected right after a pregnancy, usually known as the "baby blues" Postpartum Depression is the result of the change in hormones from the level they had been at while being pregnant to the level they are at normally. Any depression that occurs up to six months following the birth of a baby is considered Postpartum Depression and you should consult a doctor considering the fact that this type of depression is caused by a shift in hormones.