Depression is a very serious disease that can wreak havoc on your life. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that one in every ten American adults reports suffering from some form of depressive illness. Depression comes in three types: major depression, dysthymia, and manic-depressive illness, which is usually associated with bipolar disorder. Depression symptoms are similar no matter what type of the disease you have; the main differences are in how often you get the symptoms and how long they last. Some people have pronounced symptoms that are very obvious, while others may just not feel right but aren’t quite sure what the problem is. Genes, gender, age, and environment all play a part in how your depression may affect you. Fortunately, the symptoms of depression are treatable, but the first step is identifying that you suffer from the disease.
1) Changes in Sleep Habits
The amount of sleep you get and your sleeping schedule are almost certainly affected when you suffer from depression. Some people report not being able to wake up and get out of bed; others, despite a feeling of overwhelming fatigue from the depression, simply can’t fall asleep. Both of these symptoms can be problematic, particularly if you work outside of the home or have young children or elderly parents to care for. If you are not getting enough sleep due to your depression, it can impact your health as well.
2) Increased or Reduced Appetite
Like your sleeping habits, your appetite is likely to be affected by depression. Some people report symptoms in which they are losing weight from a lack of appetite and not eating enough, while others let loose in an emotional eating frenzy, packing on the pounds in the process. Both of these symptoms can have a profound impact on your life. If you’ve gained weight from your depression, you may not want to show your new body to friends or strangers. If you can’t eat, you may find social situations to be awkward and problematic.
3) Poor Concentration and Focus
Not being able to concentrate on even the smallest tasks is one of the most common symptoms. Concentration and focus are usually severely impaired by depression, especially by those suffering from long-term, major depression. This can cause major problems with employers, family, and friends who don’t understand that you want to get things done but are finding it physically and mentally impossible. You may find yourself accused of procrastination as you keep telling people you will get things done tomorrow until eventually a month passes by with no progress. If those around you don’t understand how depression impacts you, it can cause them to back away.
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4) Loss of Energy
Most people who suffer from major depression report a complete loss of energy and excessive fatigue. Although this is one of the most common symptoms of depression, people often pass it off as a by-product of too much exercise or not enough sleep. This loss of energy can be so pronounced that simple tasks such as paying bills, cooking dinner, or taking a shower require a Herculean effort. This fatigue isn’t necessarily driven by the amount of sleep you get; it is a psychological side effect of depression.
5) Lack of Interest
Depression can cause you to lose interest in hobbies and activities you used to look forward to. You may find that you’ve cut out most of your friends and family from your day-to-day life and that you spend more time in your house than you do anywhere else. If you have pets, you have trouble keeping up with their day-to-day needs. Some of this lack of interest may be intertwined with the lack of energy that is caused by the depression. You may want to get up and walk the dog, but you just can’t seem to make your body respond.
6) Low Self-Esteem
Feeling worthless or guilty and having low self-esteem are all symptoms associated with depression. Not everyone who suffers from the disease will have these feelings, or they may be so minor that they aren’t even noticed. However, most people with depression will start to fixate on things they have failed at or things that have gone wrong in their past, and they might even spend excessive amounts of time blaming themselves instead of the depression for their current situation. No matter how many times you tell them that they didn’t bring the depression on themselves, it may not help, in which case professional intervention will probably be required.
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7) Feelings of Hopelessness
As a result of negative thoughts and laying blame on yourself, you may start to develop a feeling of complete hopelessness. One symptom is the inability to change things and make them better. You may want to give a better job performance or spend more time with your children, but the waves of hopelessness you feel from the depression may be an additional barrier.
8) Changes in Movement
One of the less common symptoms of depression is a change in the way you move about. Perhaps you used to walk with a spring in your step and did things with purpose. Once depression hits, others may notice that you have slowed down or that you walk with a gait that’s very different from what they are used to. Much of this stems from the fatigue you suffer and the hopelessness you feel and will get better after you begin treatment.
Many people who suffer from depression wind up self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. You may find that the high you experience lifts you out of the depression for a brief period, or you may simply mix a few cocktails in the evening so that you can finally get some of that sleep you crave so badly. Out of all of the symptoms of depression, this is one of the most serious, as abusing drugs and alcohol can cause health problems and even feed any thoughts of suicide you might have resulting from the depression.
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10) Suicidal Thoughts
You may be plagued with one of the worst symptoms of depression—thoughts of suicide. In fact, the CDC reports that suicide is actually the eleventh leading cause of death for Americans and that more than 90% of those who commit suicide suffer from some type of depression. The warning signs of suicide include many of the symptoms of depression as well as a lack of hygiene and grooming, acting out, and a preoccupation with death and dying. If you know anyone who suffers from depression and you believe they may have suicidal thoughts, you should ensure they get the professional help they need before it is too late. If you believe the situation may be critical, call a local suicide prevention hotline for help.
11) Health Issues
People who suffer from depression often report a variety of aches and pains that have no cause, particularly frequent and severe headaches and backaches. When this happens, the most important thing is to rule out any health problems as soon as possible and then begin professional treatment for the depression so that you can start to alleviate the symptoms and return to good physical and mental health. Sometimes, however, it is the other depression symptoms that cause the problems, particularly excessive drinking or drug use, lack of sleep, and eating too much or too little.