Have you ever felt down – so down that everything began to seem hopeless? Have you ever been tormented by moods that made it difficult to get out of bed in the morning? Depression is an ever-growing problem in our society, with many people suffering with it in their lifetimes. The first step towards dealing with depression is identifying the problem and asking for help. Leading psychiatrist Dr Abrar Hussain is here to talk about the symptoms of depression to watch out for.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical condition which affects people in different ways. A survey done in 2014 in England found that 3 to 4 out of 100 adults (both men and women) suffer with depression. Although effective treatment is available, people often don’t seek help. This can be for various reasons. Sometimes, those suffering don’t realise it is a treatable condition and sometimes people might sense something is not right but feel reluctant to seek help and continue to suffer in silence.
Am I depressed?
Depression is not the same as sadness. Feeling sad in certain situations is a normal human emotion. However, normal sadness tends to be temporary and does not affect people too much. On the other hand, depression can linger on and persist for days, weeks or longer while affecting the ability to function properly.
What are the signs of depression?
One of the main clinical features of depression is low mood and a sense of hopelessness. Everything seems like hard work and it can be very hard to find the energy or motivation to do even simple things like washing and dressing yourself. Pleasurable activities no longer feel pleasurable. It can become easy to feel angry and irritable.
Sleep can be disturbed in various ways, it can be hard to fall asleep or one might wake up earlier than usual. People can lose their appetite or sometimes binge eat as a way of dealing with the negative feelings and thoughts. It can be hard to focus and concentrate on tasks.
The world around us can look dull and grey and it may become hard to trust other people. The sense of optimism and curiosity can also fade. Sometimes, people suffering from depression can experience excessive guilt and blame themselves inappropriately.
It is perhaps more common than we think in depression to feel that life is not worth living. Depending on the severity of the depression, suicidal feelings can vary in intensity and frequency. Often, these can be successfully treated if the depression is addressed.
It might sound strange but depression can also lead to physical symptoms like aches and pains and other physical manifestations for which a clear physical cause is not readily identifiable.
Dealing with depression
The most important thing for people suffering from depression is to take that first step to seek treatment. A number of well researched treatment options including medicines and talking based treatments are available. Confiding in a close trusted family member or friend can also help in overcoming the barrier to seeking professional help.
Depression is not a sign of weakness or failure. It is a well-recognised medical condition which can be treated and reversed.