Depression is one of the biggest killers in the world. In fact, depression is thought to affect up to 8% of Americans in a given year. Suicide is the 10th biggest cause of death in the United States today. This mental illness has become more prevalent in society by the day over the past decade. While awareness of mental illnesses like depression is improving, the general population still holds lots of misconceptions of what it is to have a mental illness.
In particular, there is not enough awareness surrounding the symptoms of depression. Because catching depression as early as possible can have such a big impact on the potential success of treatment, knowing how to spots the signs is vital.
The 5 most common signs of depression are:
Persistent sadness is probably the stereotypical symptom of depression. People always assume that when you’re depressed, you’re sad all of the time. And they’re right. Depression does cause persistent sadness. However, this isn’t always obvious to outsiders looking in. People can be remarkably good at hiding their feelings from the world. While somebody may be feeling devastatingly sad inside, they could appear to be perfectly happy and content.
In fact, it’s very typical for people suffering with depression to go to great lengths to hide their illness and the sadness it causes. The old adage “appearances can be deceiving”, or “never judge a book by its cover” apply perfectly to depression.
Lethargy is another extremely common sign of depression. Very often, patients feel slow and sluggish during depressive episodes. They find it almost impossible to muster up and motivation to do anything or go anywhere. The simplest of tasks such as brushing teeth or showering can seem monumental to someone dealing with depression.
This often leads to problems both at home and in the workplace, especially for patients who have kept their illness from the people around them. In these cases, the very real symptom of what is a very real illness can be easily mistaken for plain old laziness.
Social Isolation is not at all unusual for people suffering with depression. The persistent sadness that they feel can be worsened significantly when they’re around other people. Seeing how happy everyone else seems is a very bitter pill to swallow for someone who is feeling depression every minute of every day.
Most people with depression go out of their way to hide their illness from from friends, family and co-workers. Spending as little time with them as possible makes this much easier. Having to pretend that everything’s ok is mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can be far easier to simply withdraw from spending time with others as much as possible instead.
Insomnia is one of the worst side effects of depression. Everyone has a few days here and there when they struggle to get to sleep at night. Chronic insomnia is a much more serious issue.
For those who do experience chronic insomnia as a result of depression, they are infinitely less equipped to handle their illness than they would be if they could sleep properly. Chronic insomnia weakens the body and mind. It initiates a vicious circle of not sleeping because your depressed and becoming more depressed because you can’t sleep.
Insomnia also causes horrific mood swings for the patient. We all know how cranky we can be if we have one night of poor sleep. Imagine how hot tempered and hyper emotional we would feel after six months without proper sleep.
Suicidal thoughts really are the most extreme of the symptoms of depression. Far more serious than simply feeling sad, when a patient begins to experience suicidal thoughts they become a very real danger to themselves. It is at this point that intervention really is vital. Otherwise, the patient could easily end up becoming just another statistic, leaving a wake of devastation and heartbreak behind them.
These 5 are just some of the symptoms of depression but the truth is that there are many many more. Furthermore, depression can look different for everyone. So, one person could experience a different set of symptoms to another suffering from the same illness. This makes depression difficult to recognise from the outside. Add to this the fact that the vast majority of patients will do everything they possibly can to hide their illness from you and you can see how challenging spotting the warning signs can be.
If you think that you or someone you love are suffering from depression, it’s best to make an appointment to speak to a mental health professional. Alternatively there are countless organizations in the US whose aim is to raise awareness and provide much needed support to patients and their loved ones.