Recognize the signs and symptoms of depression

Depression is serious and increasingly common, but it can be difficult to pin down exactly what it means to be "depressed." So, what symptoms should you look for if someone you love is struggling with this disease?

Recognize the signs and symptoms of depression

Understanding depression

Some writers, seeking to describe the anguish of clinical depression, have told of trying to find the way through a thick yellow fog or being kept from the sunlight by a trailing black cloud.

  • As hard as it is to describe, clinical depression is quite different from the normal "down" ­reaction to disappointment. Here's more that you should know:

Depression can occur randomly

  • Depression is a serious disorder, probably caused by a disturbance in brain chemistry.
  • It can strike out of the blue and disappear just as mysteriously.
  • Many sufferers can benefit from medications to lift their mood.

Some signs to look out for

  • One of the classic signs of depression is a dramatic change in eating patterns.
  • Some people lose all desire to eat while others develop voracious appetites, especially for car­bohydrates.
  • Common signs of depression include diminished energy, an unshakable feeling of sadness, inability to experience pleasure, early awakening or multiple awakenings throughout the night, insomnia, excessive sleepiness, other sleep disorders, an inability to concentrate, and indecisiveness.
  • Depression is often accompanied by feelings of worthlessness or guilt and recurrent thoughts of death.
  • Anyone who has some or all of these symptoms nearly every day for more than two weeks may be suffering from major depression.

Other situations can be risk factors

  • Unfortunately, people over the age of 65 are four times more likely to suffer from de­pression than younger people.
  • However, elderly sufferers do not always exhibit the ­classic signs. Instead, they may show signs of dementia, complain of aches and pains, and appear agitated, anxious, or irritable.
  • Researchers estimate that almost one-third of widows and widowers meet the criteria for depression in the first four weeks after the death of a spouse. Half of these people are still clinically de­pressed after a year.
  • People with Parkinson's disease, arthritis, thyroid disorders, cancer, and those who have had strokes often suffer from depression. The person may feel depressed because they have a serious illness or they may feel depressed because the underlying disease has triggered a chemical change in their brain.

Some medications can cause depression

  • Depression can also be a side effect of medication taken for another condition.
  • Common examples include beta-blockers for hypertension, digoxin and other drugs for heart disease, indomethacin and other painkillers, corticosteroids (including prednisone), anti-Parkinsonism drugs, antihistamines, and oral contraceptives or other hormonal agents.

The best thing to do if you're struggling with depression is to speak with a health care professional. They can recommend a treatment plan, including lifestyle changes, therapy, or medication.

  • If you notice symptoms of depression in someone, try to persuade that person to see a doctor.

The most important thing is to reach out. You don't have to suffer alone.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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