Feeling Down? Or Are You Actually Depressed?

depressionMany of us feel sad or down from time to time and that is an entirely normal part of life – you cannot feel happy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But when that sad, down feeling does not go away and becomes a constant part of your life, you may be suffering with clinical depression. Depression is diagnosed when an individual has felt constantly down and like they cannot enjoy life every day for more than two weeks. Feelings of sadness or feeling generally down in the dumps is something that comes and goes, and if your feelings of sadness ebb and flow, it’s likely that you’re just feeling down at the moment.

Unfortunately, many of us ignore the signs of depression, thinking that we’re just feeling down and that we’ll feel better again soon. Depression is hugely underdiagnosed as people are far more reluctant to seek help for their emotional health than they are to seek help for their physical help. Some common signs and symptoms of depression are listed below, but remember that the symptoms will vary from person to person and some of the symptoms that are prominent in some people will not be prominent in other people.

Symptoms of Depression:

  • Difficulty in concentrating. You may have difficulty in remembering things, you may find it difficult to make decisions and you may have trouble with simple tasks that require concentration such as writing letters or emails.
  • Self-hate. It’s common for depressive patients to have strong feelings of worthlessness, loathing and guilt directed towards themselves. Patients are also often very critical of themselves.
  • Energy loss. Patients with depression often feel really tired, sluggish and fatigued, even if they’ve had plenty of sleep.
  • Anger/irritability. Depressive patients often have very low tolerance levels and can feel angry and irritable for no apparent reason.
  • Helplessness and hopelessness. These two words are the most commonly used words when depression is being diagnosed. Patients often feel helpless and hopeless, as though nothing will ever be enjoyable again and as though life is not worth living.
  • No interest in life. People with depression tend to lose interest in their life, hobbies, pastimes and social activities.
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts. This is a very serious symptom of depression and tends to only occur in severely depressed patients.
  • Weight gain or loss. This is considered to be a significant symptom if the weight gain or loss is more than 5% of the patient’s body weight in one month.
  • Sleep changes are also very common in depressive patients, be it an inability to sleep properly or suddenly sleeping for 12 hours or more a night.

Depression is twice as common in women as it is in men, and it can occur in anyone of any age. Teenagers can suffer with depression, as can pensioners. Depression comes in many different forms but what tends to characterize it from feelings of being sad is that it is constant and in some cases, recurring. Most people who have had one depressive episode in their life will have another, and coming to terms with that fact that can really enable you to cope with depression more easily.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs of depression that are mentioned above, see your doctor. They can offer you some support, in either the form of medication, counseling or a combination of both. Anti-depressants are extremely useful drugs and they can really help to lift you out of your depression, and they are especially effective when used in conjunction with counseling.

If you’re not dealing with any of the symptoms mentioned above but you are feeling down, speak to your friends and family about how you are feeling and build yourself a support network. Having that support around you will enable you to speak out if you’re feeling down in the future.