Mental health, not the sort of thing most people choose to talk about seriously. Furthermore, sometimes people say something insensitive or said out of plain ignorance.
Suffering from depression or mental health problems, is something that most people feel ashamed to admit.
What about those people who don’t suffer from depression or have ever had a severe depressive episode? This brings me to the core of this article: How do you recognise depression?
It is so very important to be vigilant. To be aware of the warning signs, and the earlier they are spotted, the better. Why? Because being depressed leads to behaviour that is not helpful. Behaviour that over time, is reinforced day after day, month after month. Slowly but surely getting a firm grip on your life. It is much harder to spot a change in behaviour if it occurs and develops gradually over time. But what are these signs and behaviour that we should look out for?
The most common symptom of depression and one which most people think is the only one is having a persistent empty or ‘sad’ mood.
A feeling of pessimism, hopelessness or helplessness and being critical of oneself for never being good enough at anything no matter what we do.
Depression can lead to a lack of interest in pursuits someone usually enjoys.
Feeling lethargic or having no energy or drive is another symptom of depression that can slowly be re-enforced over time.
Trouble with sleeping is a symptom associated with depression. Sleeping disorders are often dismissed as having developed a mild case of insomnia that will surely go away over time. Some people wake early in the morning and are unable to fall back asleep.
Eating disturbances to, especially in women, can them cope with depression even if they don’t realise it.
Depression often goes hand in hand with anxiety. Anxiety can also cause sleeping disturbances, as well as a feeling of dread, increased heart rate and more severely, panic attacks.
Depression and anxiety can easily knock our confidence levels as both can lead to difficulty concentrating and remembering or making decisions.
These symptoms can climax with devastating effect. They can sometimes lead to a complete nervous breakdown. During this nothing makes sense and it can be very frightening when you are faced with a situation like this.
Depression can also manifest itself through persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not seem to respond to treatment.
Being irritable and losing ones temper are also symptoms of depression, (supposedly) seen more often in males than females.
Thoughts of suicide, attempts and plans are never to be taken lightly. Often, suicide attempts can be a cry for help – i.e they don’t know what else to do guys! For them it seems like like this is the only way to get help (near misses). Often it can feel like the only way to alleviate their suffering (via death).
Quick note on depression, suicide and self harm: The best way to try and understand how a depressed person is feeling is to get into the person shoes…..
Imagine feeling so hopeless, powerless and down that nothing seems worth it. You are tired and can’t physically do much. Everything is a struggle. You don’t feel like you re getting any where or progressing. You can’t sleep properly or get a clear head. A lot of negative things from your past have caused a reinforced negative thinking pattern in your own head. A pattern that feels impossible to get out and away from because it is in your head and the only thing you have ever known! Imagine feeling that no matter how hard you try you can’t get away from this because it is within you. Imagine the stress of every day life upon yourself with these difficulties. Imagine how such a thinking pattern and such symptoms lead to re-enforcing more negative behaviours and thoughts about yourself and life.
A person can be diagnosed with depression if four or more of the symptoms above have been present in a two week period or more. Not everyone will have the same symptoms so it is important to be aware and look for signs of all symptoms of depression. Remember, only a doctor or psychiatrist can diagnose depression.