Depression is a common debilitating mood disorder that goes beyond a feeling of sadness after a setback or a troubling event. Depression deeply impacts other aspects of your life. It can stymie your productivity and creativity. It can interfere with your personal relationships. It can hamper your ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and your ability to enjoy life. Often, it will leave you feeling helpless and worthless. The feelings can be so intense that you fear you’ll never find relief. It severely alters your day-to-day life. Many people compare it to what it would be like to live in a black hole. People have described it as feeling like they or their lives are empty.

It’s important to remember that no two people present in the same way. Feelings may vary from person to person. Depression goes beyond the normal ups and downs of life. The intense feelings of sadness differentiate it from everyday woes: the feelings are stronger.

If you worry that you might be suffering from depression, there are some common symptoms to pay attention to:

  1. Overwhelming feelings of helplessness. A bleak, dark outlook on life.
  2. Loss of interest in daily activities. You’re no longer interested in partaking in your favorite hobbies or pastimes. You shy away from social activities and/or sex.
  3. Significant weight loss or weight gain. Significant is classified as a change of more than 5% in either direction.
  4. Insomnia or oversleeping. Waking up many times per night. Inability to fall or stay asleep.
  5. Increased anger or irritability; Lashing out at people, spontaneous explosive episodes.
  6. Sluggishness, fatigue, or a feeling of being physically drained.
  7. Reckless behavior. Hyper-sexualization, risk-taking, fascination with doing things that could cause harm. Chemical dependence. Increased alcohol consumption.
  8. Problems with concentration. Inability to focus or concentrate on tasks.
  9. Unexplained aches and pains. Body pains, lethargy, nausea, headaches.
  10. Self-loathing. Self-hatred.

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to determine a course of action.

Men are less likely to acknowledge the above feelings. They are more likely to complain about fatigue, sleep problems, or irritability. Women are more likely to experience pronounced feelings of guilty, overeating, weight gain, and sleep issues. Hormonal factors play a significant role in women as well. Teenagers are more likely to exhibit signs of anger, agitation, inability to concentrate, and body pains. Mature adults most often will complain of physical symptoms like fatigue, unexplained aches, and pains and memory problems. They are more likely to forgo personal care. They may suddenly decide to stop bathing or taking their medications or ignore things they’ve done regularly for their entire lives.

Depression comes in many forms such as major depression, atypical depression, dysthymia (recurrent, mild depression), Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and post-partum depression.

By Tarah Johansson