Feeling down is what we all go through at times in our lives. However, if the sadness takes you over and will not go away, it may be depression. It makes it difficult to function, carrying on normal activities and takes away the joy of living. You loose interest in things you once enjoyed, you have difficulty concentrating, you have loss of energy, and you have feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Depression is different from normal sadness in that it takes over your every day life, disturbing your work, sleep, appetite, and joy. You feel like you are in a dark tunnel with no end in sight, with feelings of impending doom.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
If you identify that you have several of the following signs and symptoms that have lasted for some time you may have clinical depression.
Feelings of Helplessness and Hopelessness
A negative outlook that nothing is ever going to get better and you don't see anyway out of the situation.
Loss of Interest in Daily Activities
Marked loss of interest in those activities you once derived pleasure from- hobbies, social activities, sex.
Weight Loss or Gain
Significant change in appetite or weight loss or gain. A change of more than five percent of body weight in a month.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Having difficulty sleeping especially waking in the early morning or feeling you want to sleep most of the day.
Easily agitated or angered, feeling restless. Everything bother you even to the point of violence.
Loss of Energy
Feeling fatigue, sluggish unable to perform or complete every day tasks.
Loss of Self Esteem
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, putting yourself down for your faults or mistakes.
Diminished Ability to Think or Concentrate
Having difficulty focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
You participate in self destructive behavior for example substance abuse, excessive spending, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous activities.
Recurrent Thoughts of Death
Thinking life is not worth living.
Not everyone who becomes depressed feels suicidal. The deep feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness can make a person feel there is no way out except suicide to escape the pain. Any thoughts of death or suicide should be taken seriously as a cry for help. If you or someone you know is considering suicide seek professional help immediately or call 911.
Warning Signs of Suicide
• Talking about killing one self or harming one self.
• Having strong feelings of hopelessness and seeing no way out.
• Having preoccupation with death and dying.
• Showing reckless behavior.
• Saying goodbye to friends or family.
• Getting one's affairs in order- giving away prized possessions.
• Expressing that the world would be better off without him or her.
• Seeing a sudden change from deep depression to relative calm and happy mood.
Causes and Risk Factors for Depression
• Lack of social support
• Recent stressful life experience
• Family history of depression
• Marital or relationship problems
• Financial problems
• Childhood abuse or trauma
• Substance abuse
• Unemployment or work related stress
• Health issues or chronic pain
Ways to Recovery
There are actions you can take right now to recover from depression. The thought of recovery might seem far off, but taking the first step is important. Reaching out to friends and family for support letting them know what you are going through is a start in your recovery. Making changes in your lifestyle is important getting enough exercise and sleep, eating healthy, reducing stress in your life, learning relaxation techniques, and not falling into negative thinking are ways to help yourself. If these lifestyle changes are not enough, seek help from a mental health professional. Therapy gives you the opportunity to explore and work through the root cause of your depression. You learn skills to combat your negative thinking by learning what triggers it and how to stay healthy.
If you have suicidal thoughts and feel this is an emergency which is life threatening, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.