Depression: Recognizing the 11 Signs
Depression. It is more than just sadness.
Most of us have felt sad or upset at times. We feel these emotions when we encounter disappointments or losses. However, when these overwhelming feelings last for long periods of time, they can dominate our lives.
Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is more than just sadness. It is a disorder affecting the ways we feel, think, and carry out activities. Depression can interfere with our work, relationships, or even our ability to enjoy life. It cannot simply be stopped at will.
Recognising Signs of Depression
Depression varies between people, but there are some common symptoms of depression. These symptoms are common elements of feeling sad. It is important to note that experiencing these symptoms DOES NOT mean you have depression.
Rather, the stronger and longer you experience these symptoms, there is a higher likelihood that you have depression. You may have depression if you experience five of these symptoms everyday for at least 2 weeks.
- Persistent sadness, or feeling down
- Pessimism and helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep changes: either insomnia or early morning wakefulness
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
- Unexplainable aches, or pains
Other types of Depression
Persistent Depressive Disorder (dysthymia)
Depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. Less severe symptoms than major depressive disorder, but can have episodes of major depressive disorder too.
A full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery. More than “baby blues” (mild depressive and anxiety symptoms cleared within two weeks after delivery). These feelings of intense sadness, and exhaustion may prevent new mothers from completing daily tasks for themselves, or their babies.
At least one manic episode (high and euphoric mood) and depressive episode.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Occurs when there is reduced daylight in winter. This depression usually lifts in summer and spring.
- Family history of depression
- Certain medical conditions such as sleep disorder, cancer, diabetes
- Low levels of dopamine and serotonin levels
- Traumatic life events such as loss of job or loved ones
- Lack of social support
- Negative view of the world
- Repeatedly dwelling on sad thoughts
Antidepressants are medications that treat depression. They are prescribed according to the depressive symptoms of each client. Chemicals are released to control mood and stress. One to three weeks are needed for its effects to be seen. Sleep, appetite, and concentration levels may improve before the depressed mood lifts. Medication should be continued for at least six to 12 months (or longer) as instructed.
Consulting with a therapist can help to identify dysfunctional thought patterns, and offer insight into action plans to cope with depression. More information can be found on the Ministry of Health’s publication on depression.
Reach out to our specialised therapists at The Therapy Platform
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