Symptoms of Depression
Most people feel depressed at certain times. Depression is a very normal emotion, and usually does not require any medication or professional intervention. It is your brain’s way of telling your body to stop—either because it is exhausted and just cannot do *it* anymore, or because something is hopeless—you are fighting a losing battle. Depression is also a crucial part of the grief process, and signal the realization that a loss has occurred, and you cannot change it.
For the most part, a chemical called serotonin is responsible for your happy feelings. Medical conditions can cause depressive symptoms. Biologically based depression is usually treated with a combination of medication, nutrition, exercise and, sometimes, talk therapy. Once you have ruled out biological or “organic” causes, then it is time to look at what you may be doing upset your brain chemical balance. Stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition also prevent your body from producing enough happy chemicals. Just like you can only do so many things at once, your body also has to balance its energy. If it is busy helping you get a ton of work done, worry about your finances/job/spouse/children, digest food and whatever else you do, then it does not have time to make the happy chemicals until you go to sleep. However, if you are not sleeping well or enough, then it still does not have enough time to devote to helping you feel better.
Depressed mood: A depressed mood is much different from sadness. In fact, many people with depression say they cannot feel sadness or even cry. Being able to cry again often means the depression is improving.
Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, most days: When depression starts, people can still enjoy and be distracted by pleasurable activities. When people are severely depressed, nothing “does it” for them. They just don’t care.
Weight loss or gain: Many people lose weight when depressed, partly because they lose their appetite or don’t have the energy to eat. However, some people want to eat all the time, especially comfort foods, causing weight gain.
Sleep problems: Sleep problems are common in depression. Many people have insomnia. They have trouble falling asleep, wake up often during the night, or wake up very early in the morning. They do not find sleep to be restful and may wake up feeling exhausted. Others may find that they sleep too much, especially during the day which, in turn, prevents them from being able to sleep at night.
Physical changes: For some people with depression, their movements, speech and/or thinking slows down. Their body may feel very heavy, and moving around is exhausting. Others may become agitated and cannot sit still. They may pace, wring their hands or show their agitation in other ways.
Loss of energy: People with depression find it difficult to complete everyday chores. It takes them much longer to perform tasks at work or home because they lack energy and drive.
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt: When depressed, people may lack self-confidence. They may not assert themselves and may be overwhelmed by feelings of worthlessness. Many people cannot stop thinking about past events. They obsess about having let others down or having said the wrong things, and they feel guilty.
Inability to concentrate or make decisions: People may not be able to do simple tasks or make decisions on simple matters.
Suicidal thoughts: People with depression often think they would be better off dead. There is a high risk that they will act on these thoughts