In Depression Part 1, we talked about the stigma that exists around depression. That was an important step because we’re not going to get anywhere if we’re too afraid to talk about it in the first place.
But what exactly is it? Understanding what depression actually means is another step that’s often overlooked. But it turns out that there are specific signs and behaviors that signify depression. They include:
Signs & Symptoms of Depression
- Sadness and hopelessness that never seems to go away or occurs very frequently (i.e. an overall depressed mood that lasts longer than two weeks)
- Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
- Frequent feeling of guilt
- Decreased energy and feeling often fatigued
- Change in sleeping habits (needing much more sleep or having trouble sleeping).
- Change in appetite and weight (eating much more or much less and rapid weight gain or weight loss)
- Problems with concentration and decision making
- Slow movement
- Thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm
Unfortunately, understanding what depression means is often overlooked. As a result, we sometimes use the word depression when we shouldn’t. Sometimes we say “depressed” as a replacement for the word “sad.” We’re quick to say “I’m depressed,” or we hear it said by a friend, family member, coworker, etc. We might even say it to be dramatic about how deeply upset we are when something doesn’t go the way we wanted it to.
This misuse and misunderstanding of the word “depression” undermines the fact that it’s truly a debilitating condition that can severely impact all aspects of one’s life. Furthermore, misusing and misunderstanding causes us to not properly recognize it in ourselves or in those around us. And in order to treat it, we need to recognize it when it’s actually present.
So, take another look at the signs and symptoms of depression. Is depression present? Can you or someone you know identify with the first point and more than half of the points thereafter? If so, you might be wondering what causes depression and what to do about it. Stay tuned for Part 3.