Monday, November 5, 2007

Symptoms of depression

The word 'depression' causes much confusion. It is often used to describe when someone is feeling 'low', 'miserable', 'in a mood', or having 'got out of bed the wrong side'. However, doctors use the word in two different ways. They can use it to describe the symptom of a 'low mood', or to refer to a specific illness, ie a 'depressive illness'.

This confusion is made all the worse because it is often difficult to tell the difference between feeling gloomy and having a depressive illness. Doctors make a diagnosis of depression after assessing the severity of the low mood, other associated symptoms and the duration of the problem.

Unfortunately, there is no brain scan or blood test that can be used to diagnose when a person has a depressive illness. The diagnosis can only be made from the symptoms.

Symptoms of depression

Stress can lead to you feeling down and miserable. What is different about a depressive illness is that these feelings last for weeks or months, rather than days. In addition to feeling low most or all of the time, many other symptoms can occur in depressive illness (though not everybody has every one). These include:

  • being unable to gain pleasure from activities that normally would be pleasurable.

  • losing interest in normal activities, hobbies and everyday life.

  • feeling tired all of the time and having no energy.

  • difficulty sleeping or waking early in the morning (though some feel that they can't get out of bed and 'face the world').

  • having a poor appetite, no interest in food and losing weight (though some people overeat and put on weight - 'comfort eating').

  • losing interest in sex.

  • finding it difficult to concentrate and think straight.

  • feeling restless, tense and anxious.

  • being irritable.

  • losing self-confidence.

  • avoiding other people.

  • finding it harder than usual to make decisions.

  • feeling useless and inadequate - 'a waste of space'.

  • feeling guilty about who you are and what you have done.

  • feeling hopeless - that nothing will make things better.

  • thinking about suicide - this is very common. If you feel this way, talk to somebody about it. If you think somebody else might be thinking this way, ask them about it - IT WILL NOT MAKE THEM MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT SUICIDE.


If you are clinically depressed you would have at least two of the following symptoms for at least 2 weeks.
An unusually sad mood that does not go away
Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
Tiredness and lack of energy
As well, people who are depressed often have other symptoms such as:
Loss of confidence in themselves or poor self-esteem
Feeling guilty when they are not at fault
Wishing they were dead
Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Moving more slowly or, sometimes becoming agitated and unable to settle
Having sleeping difficulties or, sometimes, sleeping too much
Loss of interest in food or, sometimes eating too much. Changes in eating habits may lead to either loss of weight or putting on weight.

Not every person who is depressed has all these symptoms. People who are more severely depressed will have more symptoms than those who are mildly depressed. Here is a guide to severity of depression

  • Mild depression - 4 of the 10 symptoms listed above over the past 2 weeks.

  • Moderate depression - 6 of the 10 symptoms of the past 2 weeks.

  • Severe depression - 8 of the 10 symptoms over the past 2 weeks.

Occasionally, depression is a sign of another illness or is caused by the side effects of medications. Your doctor will want to check out whether there are any other medical problems or pills that could be causing your depression.
If you think you might be depressed, you should seek help from your GP or other appropriate health professional.

The Experience of Depression

It was the worst experience of my life. More terrible even than watching my wife die of cancer. I am ashamed to admit that my depression felt worse than her death but it is true. I was in a state that bears no resemblance to anything I had experienced before. It was not just feeling very low, depressed in the commonly used sense of the word. I was seriously ill.
Professor Lewis Wolpert, CBE, Fellow of the Royal Society of London.
(Malignant sadness: the anatomy of depression, London, Faber and Faber, 2001)

Some people refer to it as being like disappearing into a black hole. Sir Winston Churchill described depression as 'the black dog' and the writer William Styron wrote of 'darkness visible'.

If you are seriously depressed you will know that it is difficult to communicate how bleak, how painful and how disabling your depression is to someone who hasn't experienced the problem personally. What you can say is that it is NOT the same as feeling a little sad or 'blue'. As Professor Wolpert describes above, it is not even the same as normal grief. In fact, according to medical experts [1], depression disrupts a person's life as much as other serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, severe asthma or deafness.

"Natasha, a 20 year old student, is a typical example of someone who is depressed.

She has been feeling very down for the last few months. She normally has good relationships with her friends, but now she find that she can't talk to them about how hopeless and meaningless her life feels to her. They no longer drop in to see her because she is so withdrawn. She has lost weight because she is not eating properly. She wakes up at 3am in the morning and can't get back to sleep.

Natsha can't keep her mind on her study and finds making decisions difficult. She can't seem to enjoy anything either. Most days it is a huge struggle just to get to university. When she can get herself to a lecture, she comes home and just goes to bed or watches TV. She no longer feels like playing the flute, although it used to be her favourite pastime. She wants desperately not to feel this way, and her future looks very bleak to her. She doesn't know what is wrong, or how to fix herself up."

Natasha is not alone in her distress. The chances are that her neighbour, someone else in her family, her lecturer and famous people she has read about have also experienced depression.

We know that about 6% of Australians will suffer from depression in any one year. [2]

Not everyone will experience exactly the same problem. But, some problems are common in depression. These usually involve changes in feelings, thoughts, physical well being and behaviour.

Signs of Severe Depression.

In 1999, Winona Ryder decided to make a film-comeback. Her movie vehicle was “Girl, Interrupted” based on a book written by Susannah Kaysen. Kaysen’s real life account in her days at a mental institution were adapted to the big screen and gave movie-goers a preview on what it was like being there.

What is unforgettable in the movie is that Ryder’s character Susannah made friends with a group of girls who each had their own illness. One was schizophrenic, another was anorexic, another was a pathological liar and there was a clinically depressed teenager. The clinically depressed teenager religiously took valium and eventually killed herself.

Other clinically depressed public icons are the painter Vincent Van Gogh, writer Virginia Wolff and poet Sylvia Plath. Notice that all three killed themselves.

Clinical depression is defined as a state of sadness, melancholy or despair. When it gets to the advance stages, the individual reaches a point wherein he isolates himself from social functions or activities. He is withdrawn and is usually in a low mood, always feeling dejected enabling him to function improperly.

In the olden days, when pharaoh still walked the land and weren’t encased in tombs, when a person shows signs of clinical depression and withdraws from society, their remedy is to chant incantations to turn-away the demons possessing the inflicted person.

However, as time progressed, more and more studies have lead to the discovery of why a person becomes clinically depressed in the first place. Scientifically, they say that clinical depression was a chemical imbalance in the brain. However, other studies reflect that about 16% of the total population has at least at one point experienced hitting the dumps in their lives. This usually occurs in the late 20s. Twice as many females than males have experienced clinically depression.

It turns out clinical depression is the primary cause of disability in the United States and in other countries. According to the World Health Organization, it is predicted to be the second leading cause of disability after heart disease by 2020.

Once these signs are evident in a patient, you must ask for a help of a doctor or a psychiatrist. These are the symptoms for a possible cause of severe depression.

- Depressed mood
- Disinterest in practically every activity
- Over the top sadness or fear
- Tendency to feel so empty
- Always tired
- Loses appetite
- Remarkable weight gain or loss
- Mental stress
- Loss of energy
- Haunting feelings of guilt
- Always feeling helpless
- Always feeling hopeless
- Always anxious
- Has a trouble focusing on an activity and a mindset
- Irrational when it comes to making decisions
- Slow in remembering ideas
- Thoughts of death and dying are always recurring
- Fantasies of suicide
- Suicide attempts
- Low self-esteem
- Personal hygiene is no longer given attention to
- Very much sensitive around noise
- Always feeling pain and paranoid about it, thinking that it could lead to something worse when it really is nothing.
- Fear of going insane
- Inability to differentiate the days and when exactly the action occurred

It is also possible that depression affects children and not just adults. Here are the signs showing that your child may be depressed.

- Low self-esteem
- Easily irritated
- Has difficulty sleeping
- Recurring nightmares
- Memory problems
- Slower pace when it comes to learning
- Changes in behavior such as isolation, withdrawal and aggression

For teenagers, an indicator of depression could be excessive consumption of alcohol and use of drugs. Worse, some teenagers even push the clinically depressed envelope further and put themselves at a great risk by eating disorders and self-harm such as mutilation.

For most people, these signs can mean the person is just a little blue or out of the weather and go on with their lives not really thinking much about it. However, if these signs go on for over a week, then it is advised that the possibly clinically depressed individual must see his doctor for a proper prognosis.

As the list shows, the symptoms of clinical depression may be harmful to the individual and could lead to other serious illnesses. We wouldn’t want our love ones to be like Van Gogh who pulled off his ear, Woolf who let herself drown or Plath who placed her head in the over, do we?

Anxiety and Depression Treatment Information

Depression, it is a line that slips off the tongue all too readily when we are bored or unhappy. But most of us, when we say that, do not mean we are clinically depressed, possibly wanting or needing treatment.

Depression - the blues can hit us all from time to time, as financial, emotional or work problems hang over like a dark cloud. In the long term, if the problems are not resolved, depression lowers the immune system, leaving you prone to a spiral of worstening mental and physical health.

Anxiety is a normal response to danger. Anxiety is abnormal when its severity is out of proportion to the threat of danger or when it outlasts the threat. Anxiety mood is closely coupled with somatic and autonomic components, and with psychological ones.

Depression is a normal response to loss or misfortune. Depression is abnormal when it is out of proportion to the misfortune or unduly prolonged. Depressive mood is closely coupled with other changes, notably a lowering of self-esteem, self-criticism, and pessimistic thinking.

While tending to the patient's psychological needs, don't forget her physical needs. If she's too depressed to take care of herself, help her with personal hygiene. Encourage her to eat. If she's constipated, add high-fiber foods to her diet; offer small, frequent meals; and encourage physical activity and fluid intake.

Anxiety Depression Symptoms

Depression is a state of mind which is characterized by a negative sense of inadequacy and a visual lack of activity. It is a mental state in which the effecting person experiences sad feelings of gloom and downturn in mood, which may be relatively transitory and may be due to something complex. The common behaviour includes feelings of sadness, despair, low self-esteem, low self-reproach and discouragement.

Depression is a listed mental disorder which includes altered mood; it may occur daily associated with diminished interest or pleasure in most or all of the activities.

The depression-guide is devoted towards helping and assisting people who suffer from the depression, anxiety, adhd and related disorders. It also tries its best hand towards support resource for family, friends and loved ones in learning about depression and other anxiety attacks related disorders.

We have compiled and consolidated the latest information on depression (including anxiety, adhd) signs and symptom of depression, depression causes, diagnosis, and depression treatment and cure for teen, adult and child. We have also gathered important information on coping with the personal and social effects of a depression, which can become difficult without the proper knowledge. depression-guide has information on anxiety depression related disorders and medicine library, depression self help, depression support and health care professional, etc.

It is possible that an individual's episode of depression may be caused entirely by a major stressful situation or event. For others, stressors may 'set off' or trigger an episode that was 'waiting to happen'. Alternatively, a depressive episode may be completely unrelated to a stressful event. It is therefore not surprising that, in many written accounts of depression, the role of stressful events as a trigger is difficult to determine. Often, the explanations provided by therapists are just as speculative.