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Understanding depression: depression signs, symptoms and help

Everybody goes through ups and downs in life and sadness, disappointments and setbacks are a normal phenomenon of life. While many people use the term “depression” to suggest these kinds of negative feelings, depression is actually different from ordinary, normal sadness.

Depression engulfs your whole life totally and interferes with your ability to carry on with your day-to-day activities, work, sleep, eat and have fun. Depression symptoms include intense, unrelenting feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness that seem to have little, if any, respite or relief.

Are you depressed?

There are many signs and symptoms that may suggest you are depressed and not just experiencing a temporary, normal spell of low spirits. If you identify with several of the following depression symptoms and signs and they just won’t go away, then you may be suffering from clinical depression, which is a medical condition.

  • Unrelenting feelings of hopelessness and helplessness: You have an overall bleak outlook to life and you feel there is nothing you can do to improve your circumstances or situation.
  • No interest in day-to-day activities: You’ve lost interest in former pastime and social activities like hobbies or even sex, as well as the ability to feel pleasure and joy.
  • Irritable and angry: You feel restless, are easily agitated and even get violent. Everything and everyone gets on your nerves and you have a short temper and are intolerant to others.
  • Energy loss: You feel drained of energy, fatigued and sluggish. Your whole body feels heavy and performing even small tasks is exhausting and tedious.
  • Change of weight or appetite: You have significant weight gain or loss, which means gaining or losing more than 5 per cent of your body weight in a month. You also probably have more or less food appetite than usual.
  • Concentration problems: You have trouble remembering things, focussing and making decisions.
  • Escapist behaviour: You engage in reckless, escapist behaviour like substance abuse, reckless driving and compulsive gambling.
  • Increased aches and pains: You experience increased physical aches and pains like headaches, stomach pain, back pain and muscles aches that are unexplained.
  • Sleep disorders: You experience sleep changes like insomnia, oversleeping or even hypersomnia, which is commonly known as sleep walking.

What to do if you are depressed

If you, a friend or family member have one or more of these depression symptoms, you can take heart that there are many treatment options for depression available. The key to speedy recover from depression, however, is to seek help. Isolation magnifies depression symptoms so you need to reach out and ask for help even when you feel like you want to be alone.

Tell your friends and family what you are going through and how you would like them to support you, including offering you emotional, material and lifestyle change support. More than likely you will get the support you need, which will propel you forward to quick recovery. You can also join a support group to help in your recovery process.

If support from your family, friends and support group is not enough, seek professional help. A mental health professional, for example, will employ different treatments for depression like medication, therapy and alternative treatments that are very effective. This will help you get back to enjoying life and the experience of pleasure sooner rather than later or never.

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