Depression goes far beyond the occasional sadness that everyone feels. Those suffering from depression experience life-altering changes in their mood and behavior and often feel as though there is no way out of their depressive state. When properly diagnosed and treated, though, depression can lift and sufferers can find that their lives are filled with joy and meaning. In order for such a change to take place, however, you must be able to recognize the signs of depression in yourself or a loved one.
Sadness that doesn’t go away. Feelings of sadness that linger or are severe enough to impact daily life can signify depression. If you or someone you love can’t seem to shake a sad mood, it may be a sign of depression.
Mood changes. Those who are depressed may experience mood swings, with a tendency to be restless, anxious, or irritable.
Physical discomfort. Depression can manifest itself in a number of ways, including physical discomfort. A pattern of unexplained headaches, backaches, or stomach upset can be a warning sign of untreated depression.
Feeling worthless and hopeless. One of the most difficult aspects of depression is the tendency of sufferers to feel that their lives are of little value and that there is little hope of things improving. Even those who are enormously successful may suffer from feelings of inadequacy, and no amount of compliments from others can convince them otherwise.
Sleeping and eating difficulties. Many who are depressed experience sleep problems—they may be restless and unable to sleep or may sleep excessively. Loss of appetite is also common, but some who are depressed overeat in an attempt to soothe their uncomfortable feelings.
Trouble concentrating or inability to make decisions. While stress or other influences may be to blame, people who are depressed may have trouble staying focused and/or completing common tasks.
Thoughts of suicide. The most dangerous outcome of untreated depression is the increased risk of suicide. Those who talk about killing themselves should always be taken seriously, even if it seems that they are joking.
Depression affects people of all ages. Sometimes parents notice signs of depression in their children, but ignore them, assuming that their kids are merely going through an awkward stage. Depression can impact anyone, from children to the elderly, so sadness, excessive crying, lethargy, or unexplained minor illnesses in children should be mentioned to the pediatrician so that the child can get the necessary treatment.
Depression is a serious illness that can have deadly consequences if left untreated. If you notice symptoms of depression in yourself or in someone you care about, be sure to take action and seek help from a physician or mental health professional. Treatment is available and can be enormously successful. There is help and there is hope.