You may experience certain symptoms and early warning signs that can tell that you have clinical depression. These feelings or symptoms can be psychological and physical.
Psychological symptoms are those, which you feel emotionally and physical are those, which you experience in the body and which can hurt.
The symptoms and signs described here, if present, should never be ignored because as time progresses, this mental disorder progresses in severity and that makes it that much more difficult to recover or recover at all.
If you’ve felt sad, low or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest in your day-to-day usual activities for more than two weeks, you could be suffering from depression. These are usually the first telltale signs of depression that warn you of the onset of this mental disorder.
But, it should be noted here that not all depressed patients experience all the symptoms. Again, we all feel some of these symptoms from time to time, but it does mean you are depressed.
The severity, frequency, and duration of the symptoms vary from individual to individual and also depend on the type of depression.
Depression tends to peak between ages 45 and 64, but it can emerge at any age of life. You can see it in teenagers, college students, and young adulthood. Pressures of life take their toll on the young mentally weak individuals. The female gender especially is more vulnerable due to a stronger genetic potential for developing depression.
Depression alters the outlook of a person and changes the way the depressed individual looks at life and at other people. He develops a negative attitude and refuses to believe that any problem can be solved in a positive way.
The accompanying physical symptoms such as a headache can often be misleading and the person or his/her relatives and friends do not think of depression as the cause.
There is no test that the doctor can do to confirm or diagnose that you are depressed. He diagnoses you on the basis of your history and the symptoms you experience and the signs that he detects. He also tries to find out if you are associated with any of the causes and risk factors that make you prone. That is why signs and symptoms are extremely important in the diagnosis of depression.
Symptoms can be psychological and physical. Here is the breakdown.
Signs of depression are easy to diagnose, if typical. But they vary and the person with these symptoms and his relatives often think that they are a passing phase and wait for them to pass.
The person may then sink deeper into depression and therefore, it is necessary to know these signs and symptoms and identify them if present in you or someone you know so that timely help can be sought. The psychological symptoms of depression that you may experience are:
- Sadness and unhappiness. This is a symptom that is almost always present.
- A feeling of hopelessness and helplessness and a strong belief of impending doom
- Loss of interest in any matter including in living life
- Getting irritated over small matters
- Irritability causing restlessness and inability to sit still. The person always keeps fidgeting or pacing
- Reduced sex drive or erectile dysfunction
- Lack of concentration leading to distraction and indecisiveness and inability to remember events or things
- Low self-esteem giving a feeling of self-hate, unworthiness, and guilt
- Blaming self for problems. This is another sign of depression that is typical.
- Becoming withdrawn and isolated
- Lack of interest in any activity including ones enjoyed earlier
- Frequent thoughts of committing suicide and dying. The older adult men are more prone to suicide attempts
- Crying for the smallest reason
Physical symptoms of depression that hurt
Besides the behavioral symptoms and signs explained above, certain physical symptoms too manifest in the depressed person. These physical manifestations are not psychological or “just in your head”. They are real and a result of certain chemical imbalances in the brain.
Many doctors miss out on this and you may, therefore, not get the proper help for your problems till you are diagnosed with your mental disorder.
Some of these brain chemicals are responsible for how you perceive pain. Therefore, a patient with depression feels pain differently than other people. These are the symptoms which manifest physically due to stress.
- A headache or a backache without apparent cause. An existing migraine or a backache can become worse due to depression.
- Muscle and joint pains
- Chest pain that may not show any cause on investigation
- Digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation. Depression does slow down your digestive activity.
- Lack of sleep or sleeping excessively
- Feeling of fatigue and tiredness. Physical activity is minimal.
- In some individuals, depression causes loss of appetite leading to weight loss, while in others it causes an increased craving for food leading to weight gain.
- Light-headedness or dizziness
Some differences in the manner in which depression manifests have been found based on sex and age.
Symptom differences in men and women
In men, symptoms often present as tiredness, irritability, and anger. They may be more reckless in their attitude and turn to drugs and alcohol for relief. They also tend to not recognize or admit that they are depressed. In women, symptoms of depression such as sadness, worthlessness, and guilt are more common.
Symptoms in Children
In younger children, depression is more likely to manifest as a refusal to attend school, anxiety when they are separated from their parents, and worrying about their parents dying.
These include sadness, irritability, and hopelessness. Depression is often accompanied by other mental disorders such as anxiety or hyperactivity disorder.
Symptoms in Adolescents and Teens
Depressed teenagers tend to be irritable, sulky, and often get into trouble in school. They often have associated anxiety, eating disorders, and/or substance abuse. They also tend to be socially isolated.
Changes in sleep and thinking are other common features.
Symptoms in Older Adults
In older adults, depression may show up more subtly as they are less likely to admit to symptoms of sadness and medical illnesses
Their symptoms often go undiagnosed as the physical symptoms, such as obscure pains, loss of appetite and sleep, loss of sex drive are considered as associated with aging.
Other symptoms include a desire to stay at home and isolate oneself from society. Suicidal tendencies are more common among older adults and they should be treated promptly as committing suicides due to depression is more common among this age group.
How long do depression symptoms last?
On an average, symptoms of major depression can last 4 to 8 months. However, proper treatment can shorten this duration.
Do severe depression symptoms ever go away?
The answer to this question depends on the severity and the duration of the depression.
Some depressed individual recover in a few weeks or months. But for others, depression can be a long-term affair.
In about 20% to 30% of people who suffer from an episode of depression, the symptoms do not entirely go away. If you were depressed for a long time before you received treatment, you may not ever feel normal again.
Can depression symptoms come and go?
Yes, depression symptoms can come and go. It is also possible that an individual episode of depression may go away on its own without treatment.
But, for 40–60%, depression becomes chronic and its symptoms will reappear.
This is because by the time treatment is availed of by most depressed individuals, they have already suffered multiple depressive episodes. Treatment, however, can reduce the frequency, severity and the duration of these recurring episodes.
Seeing the doctor
Presence of feeling such similar symptoms in you or your loved ones should immediately prompt an appointment with a counselor and if depression is diagnosed, treatment should be sought and taken sincerely till the time advised as necessary.