It you are feeling down from time to time, it might be a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won’t go away, it may be depression. The lows of depression make it hard to function and enjoy life as you used to. Day to day functionality can be overwhelming. No matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better, and get help. First, you need to understand depression before you can take the road to depression recovery.
What is depression?
We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.
Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of emptiness. However, some depressed people don’t feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless.
Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness and it disrupts your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting.
Are you depressed?
If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
- you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
- you can’t concentrate or you find previously tasks that were once easy are now difficult
- you feel hopeless and helpless
- you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
- you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
- you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
- you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behaviour
- you have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)
Signs and symptoms of depression:
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and interfering on you daily life, that’s when it’s time to seek help.
Common signs and symptoms of depression:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
- Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behaviour. You engage in dangerous behaviour such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
Depression and suicide:
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behaviour seriously. It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide: it’s a cry for help.
Warning signs of suicide include:
- Talking about killing or harming one’s self
- Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
- An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
- Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
- Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
- Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
- Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
- A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy