What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. Symptoms of depression are characterised by deep sadness, lack of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities, changes in appetite and sleep, fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Depression can also be accompanied by negative thoughts, such as feeling hopeless or thinking that everything is going wrong.
Depression is not just “being sad” or “feeling low” for a period of time, it is a serious disorder that requires medical and psychological care. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stressful events, hormonal changes, medical problems and genetics.
What are the symptoms of depression?
The symptoms of depression can severely affect how a person feels, how they think and how they coordinate daily activities such as sleeping, eating or working. Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, background, income, culture or educational level. And while these can vary from person to person, the most common symptoms of depression include the following:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or “emptiness”.
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of irritability, frustration or restlessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies
- Fatigue, decreased energy or feeling slowed down
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, waking up early in the morning or oversleeping
- Unplanned changes in appetite or weight
- Aches and pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems with no apparent physical cause, or that are not relieved even with treatment
It is important to note that symptoms of depression must be present consistently over a prolonged period of time to be considered a depressive disorder. In fact, for a clinical diagnosis to be made, the person must have (at least) five symptoms of depression every day. Continuously for most of the day, and for at least two weeks.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Don’t stop seeking help, there is a solution to improve your emotional wellbeing.
How do I know if I have depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that can affect anyone at any time in their lives. As mentioned above, to be considered depressed, a person must show several of the symptoms of depression on a consistent basis. Showing a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities should be one of them. However, depression can affect people in different ways, depending on their age.
For example, children may show symptoms of depression along the lines of being anxious, moody, pretending to be sick, refusing to go to school, clinging to their parents or worrying that a parent will die. Adolescents may have problems in school or low self-esteem, or they may be quiet, easily frustrated or show symptoms of other disorders such as eating disorders.
Young adults with depression are more likely to be irritable, complain of weight gain and hypersomnia, and have a negative outlook on life and the future. Whereas older adults sometimes have less obvious symptoms of depression and may report a lack of emotion or anhedonia, rather than a depressed mood.
A person can develop depression as a result of many different factors, including environmental factors, life events, and biological or genetic factors. In fact, it is estimated that around 40% of depression is due to genetic factors or an interaction between these and the environment.
In any case, it is important to remember that depression is an emotional disorder that can seriously affect people. So if you think you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to see a mental health professional. A psychologist or psychiatrist will be able to carry out a thorough assessment and make an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Anxiety and depression: Can you have both?
Although depression and anxiety are different conditions, they often occur together. In fact, depression often appears as a trigger after a period of suffering from anxiety problems.
Anxiety can occur as an additional symptom in a person with a depressive disorder and vice versa, a person with an anxiety disorder can present some symptoms of depression. However, it is also possible to suffer from a mixed anxiety-depressive disorder. This disorder is characterised by a combination of symptoms characteristic of anxiety and depression, and other signs may be present at the same time. Such as a loss of interest, inability to experience pleasure, dissatisfaction or low mood. This, together with feelings of excessive worry, irritability and nervousness.
The symptoms of both conditions often improve greatly with psychological counselling, medication, such as antidepressants, or a combination of both. In addition, introducing healthy lifestyle habits, such as improving sleep habits, doing sport or seeking more social support, can help to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. Go to a professional and ask the people who love you to support you in your process of improvement.