Regarding the major depressive type specifically, there are a few subtypes – Seasonal Affective Disorder, Prenatal and PostPartum, and Atypical, all of which make this condition rather complex. Furthermore, it’s extremely important to be able to recognize the telltale signs and symptoms, and to understand that this disorder will not go away on its own and will get worse if neglected. It is therefore essential that you seek the help of a trusted mental health professional who possesses the proper tools and expertise in treating the root source of the depression.
With that being said, if you suspect someone you know might have depression, pay close attention to the following signs and symptoms.
This is the most common hallmark symptom of them all. Depression causes a feeling of deep sadness or emptiness that lasts for more than two weeks. A person may also describe that they feel a heavy sense of “hopelessness” that just refuses to go away.
In other words, they may feel as if life will never get better and that this intense level of sadness will last forever. If this painful and debilitating feeling lasts longer than two years, it’s known as dysthymia, a chronic form of depression in which a person’s moods are constantly low for a prolonged period.
Continual feelings of worthlessness, self hatred and low self esteem often accompany this condition as well. It causes individuals to hyperfocus on personal shortcomings or past failures, repeatedly seeing it in their mind again and again, or telling themselves that they are worthless. They often blame themselves for things that go wrong, whether it was their fault or not.
Kids and teenagers are especially prone to this due to various traumatic life experiences, along with the serious problem of bullies at school who single out an easy target. They very often report feeling alienated, alone, unaccepted, invisible and misunderstood, leading them to avoid social interaction with others and the belief that everything is pointless and they will never amount to anything.
People with depression often experience a severe lack of energy or feel very sleepy all the time, no matter how much sleep they get at night. This makes various simple everyday tasks exceedingly difficult, such as bathing / showering, making a phone call or getting out of bed.
Fatigue can play a role in other symptoms associated with depression, such as withdrawal and apathy. You may feel overwhelmed and have no interest in the mere thought of exertion, going outdoors or participating in any activity. This chronic fatigue then causes people to get easily frustrated or irritated, even over seemingly small or insignificant matters. This makes it very hard for them to simply get through the day.
Men and women may display irritability symptoms differently from each other. Women often feel angry at one moment, and then tearful at the next. Men, on the other hand, may appear to have volatile or aggressive tendencies instead.
Anxiety and depression often occur simultaneously. It is a frequent feeling of impending doom or danger, even when it’s irrational. Depression can potentially cause a person to feel anxious all the time. A person may say they are constantly tense or on edge, but there’s no obvious threat or identifiable source for this tension. Chronic restlessness, including pacing around aimlessly, an inability to sit still, or twiddling your hands a lot, may also occur.
People with depression may also struggle with remembering, maintaining focus, and making decisions. This can make daily decision-making into a long exhausting hassle for them and those who are with them. For instance, friends or family members may discuss specific dates or events, but you may forget just moments later due to the lack of concentration. This inability to focus can lead to further desire to withdraw and isolate from others.
Sleeping problems are also very common with this condition. People’s sleep habits are likely to change. They may not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep. They may wake up in the middle of the night and not go back to sleep at all. You may sleep for long periods and find that you still have no energy or interest in getting out of bed, even for your basic needs.
In more severe cases of depression, people start to lose interest in food and thus begin to lose too much weight. After some time, the lack of food leads to malnutrition. In other people, depression leads to overeating and weight gain. In essence, this is because a person may feel so frustrated or miserable that they turn to food as a means of comfort and to escape their problems. However, overeating can lead to excessive weight gain, leading to additional health issues.
Eventually, if the depression is ignored or neglected for too long, those suffering from this will begin to have suicidal thoughts and may even frequently speak about dying.
Depressed individuals rarely manage to get themselves help. So if you notice any of the above warning signs or others, take action right away.
Also, please note that this article is not a diagnosis nor a replacement for a mental health professional.