Are you Depressed?

Around the world, depression is the most common mental health disorder. Each year it affects millions people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds. We often use the expression "I'm feeling depressed" when we're feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass in due course. But, if the feelings are interfering with your life and don't go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you're depressed in the medical sense of the term. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be life-threatening, because it can make people suicidal or simply give up the will to live.

If someone has the following symptoms maybe they have depression as an illness and they do not simply feel sad or low: Pervasive low mood and tearfulness, unresponsive to and out of keeping with current circumstances. Other mood tensions including tension, irritability and anxiety. Insomnia (typically waking early) Reduction in appetite, weight loss and constipation Lack of energy and tiredness/lack of stamina Loss of libido Loss of concentration/forgetfulness Feelings of low self-esteem, guilt and helplessness Thoughts of suicide A depressive episode is diagnosed if 5 or more of these symptoms last most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of 2 weeks or longer.

People who are depressed tend to view the world in an excessively pessimistic or hopeless light; there is no expectation that things will improve and often this dismal state of affairs is perceived as being their own responsibility. Most generally the individuals judge themselves harshly and underestimate their own positive attributes in favour of this self-disparaging and critical view. Such thoughts may range from a scarcely noticeable pessimistic tainting of normal statements and opinions to unpleasant and unwelcome preoccupations which make life a misery. These might include ideas of sinfulness and wickedness, ideas which are quite out of proportion and which may reach delusional intensity (i.e. be perceived by others to be obviously false). Such preoccupations may logically lead individuals to thoughts of delivering themselves from such a shameful or tormenting situation by ending their life, and suicidal behaviour and the danger of self-destructive acts as well. If you recognize some of the problems and symptoms of depression described below, it may be worth investigating whether you are depressed. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

Psychological signs of depression
  • persistent low/blue mood
  • low self-esteem
  • tearfulness
  • feelings of guilt
  • intolerance of others
  • poor motivation
  • poor interest
  • lack of enjoyment
  • irritability
  • hopelessness
  • helplessness
  • suicidal thoughts
  • thoughts of harming someone else, such as a baby
  • reduced sex drive
  • feeling worse first thing in the morning
  • anxiety
  • obsessional worries, acts, ruminations, or images
  • difficulty making decisions
  • worries about a child
Physical signs of depression
  • slowed movement
  • disturbed sleep
  • slowed speech
  • change in appetite (usually decreased but sometimes increased)
  • change in weight (usually a decrease but sometimes weight gain)
  • aches and pains
  • lack of energy
  • constipation
  • menstrual disturbance
  • lack of interest in sex
  • multiple physical symptoms
Social signs of depression
  • lack of ability to work
  • lack of social activities
  • few hobbies and interest
  • few friendships
  • home difficulties


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