Sadness and gloom affect almost everyone at one time or another. Being sad or lonely is a normal human condition. At times, the feelings are strong enough to use the word depression. But how bad does it have to get before you have true clinical depression? What are the signs and symptoms of depression?
Symptoms of depression normally include intense negative feelings. Guilt, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of helplessness are all common with clinical depression. A persistent sadness is often present. Practically everyone with depression reports an overall feeling of overwhelming hopelessness.
People suffering from clinical depression often have a hard time concentrating and making decisions. This is more than a mild indecisiveness that some people have as part of their personality. Rather, this is an almost complete inability to function in the everyday world.
They are also plagued by fatigue and low energy levels, regardless of how much rest they may be getting. Other symptoms reported among patients with major depression include persistent aches and pains that don't respond to treatment.
Changes in sleep habits often occur with depression. People either suffer from insomnia, completely unable to get a good night's sleep, or they sleep both day and night. Another common symptom is the loss of interest in activities that someone once enjoyed a great deal. This could be anything from hobbies to sports, even sex. A change in appetite in either direction (more hungry than usual, not hungry at all) is a signal for concern.
Studies suggest that about half of the people who suffer from depression are never diagnosed or treated. In some cases, the very people who are suffering either do not recognize the severity of their symptoms, or the symptoms prevent them from taking action to seek treatment. The main concern is treatable depression that goes undiagnosed can eventually lead to suicide. Almost all cases of major depression respond well to treatment. It is truly a tragedy when those who could be helped take this last irrevocable step.
Any time you or someone you know has suffered symptoms of depression for two weeks or more, immediate help should be sought. Self-diagnosis is not recommended. This is a serious condition that will not disappear by itself-active, assertive treatment is necessary to break the grip of depression.
Written by Jan Howard
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