It is now understood that one in four of us will suffer from depression at some stage in our lives. That is a pretty high statistic and so it can do no harm to be able to recognise some of the common symptoms of the onset of depression. The following changes in mood or behaviour may be indications of depression. If you are suffering from any of the following for more than a couple of weeks it is advisable to seek help and advice:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
- Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behaviour. You engage in escapist behaviour such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
There is no need to feel any shame or embarrassment associated with suffering from depression. Depression, like asthma or a broken leg, is a medical condition, and like any medical condition it responds much better to prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect that either your or somebody you know may be suffering from low mood or depression, a visit to your doctor is always a good idea.
For information about how to avoid depression please look out for my blog entitled “Avoiding Depression” on Saturday.