The word Depression is often mis-used and mis-understood. Often people will say they feel depressed if they are having a day where they feel a little under the weather or under par. It is extremely normal for all of us to have days like this. However; the illness of depression is something very different to having an under par day or few days. It is not possible for a person with the illness of Depression to 'snap out of it' or 'pull themselves together' or 'look on the bright side', or to 'think positively' which can be the sorts of things that well meaning people might say to a person suffering with Depression. Depression is a serious illness, and sufferers will almost always need help to recover.
The main symptoms of depression according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) are Low Energy and/or Fatigue, Low Self Esteem, Poor concentration or Difficulty making decisions, Feelings of hopelessness, Insomnia, or excessive sleeping, Poor appetite or overeating.
When a person is depressed they tend to feel de motivated and apathetic and as if they have to literally drag themselves around. Even the most seemingly simple task can feel like climbing mount Everest.
People with Depression also often feel unable to experience any pleasure, all positive feelings and emotions seem to go, and there can be an increase in irritability and anger. There are often increased feelings of anxiety and fear, and/or sadness, guilt, shame, envy, jealousy. Depression also often interferes with Thinking. With depression the way a person views themselves and the future and the world in general feels hopeless, and flawed and worthless.
Often people with depression find it very difficult to concentrate and have a poor memory. People who are depressed often have imagery that goes with the depression such as feeling in a hole or a pit, feeling stuck and not able to emerge. Behaviour also changes. People tend to engage less in social activities and want to withdraw. The person can feel quite agitated and find it difficult to relax, or they might feel very slowed down.
The above are some of; and include the main symptoms of Depression and are summarised from a book called 'Overcoming Depression' by Paul Gilbert.
People with depression can also have suicidal thoughts, and these thoughts can also develop into suicide plans, and intention to commit suicide if the depression is severe. (Please refer to the tab for suicidality).
Depression is an extremely debilitating and distressing illness and can, and often does affect all areas of a persons life and functioning. It is extremely important to seek help if anyone feels they may be suffering with depression.