Depression which is also called clinical depression or MDD (major depressive disorder) is one of the disorders that are not understood completely even today. People tend to disregard the seriousness of this disorder as you cannot see the disorder physically. Occasional mood swings and feeling despondent are often regarded as something you can fix with eating ice cream or sleeping well.
For such kind of people, the disorder is a term which should be reserved for the more serious condition rather than feeling depressed.
There is no doubt about the fact that facing challenges in everyday life can make you feel down but the feelings subside with the passage of time and they do not affect your life negatively in a substantial manner.
Nevertheless, depression is something much bigger than just a temporary emotional reaction.
Depression as a fact is a mental disorder. The symptoms of depression do not wear off with the passage of time and they ruin your daily life and adversely affect your personal, professional and social life.
Lack of knowledge, not enough trained medical professionals, poor diagnosis and the general stigma about mental disorder are reasons why less than half of the patients with depression go and find proper treatment.
The first step to fighting off any disorder is to first identify and acknowledge the symptoms and create awareness about it. Here are 10 warning signs of depression that should not be ignored.
Hopelessness, Guilt, Low Self Esteem
Having a gloomy and somber vision of what the future holds, lack of self-confidence and feeling guilty are classic signs of clinical depression.
Some people do not hold themselves in low regard but do feel disgusted with them. Some express the huge sense of guilt and constantly blame themselves for the mistakes made in past.
Patients with depression are mostly unforgiving towards themselves but in a few cases, they blame others. Guilt and blaming yourself is the central point of clinical depression.
According to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2015, 85 percent patients out of 132 patients reported self-blame and inadequacy to be the most recurring symptoms and the most troublesome. Shame, guilt, and self-disgust were reported to be the next most frequently occurring symptoms.
According to a study in 2004 that was published in Psychiatry, fatigue is a symptom that occurs commonly in patients with depression.
A neurotransmitter known as serotonin is emitted by the brain and is responsible for generating happy feelings and similarly, neurotransmitter epinephrine is responsible for generating energy.
Clinical depression biologically reduces the levels of serotonin that the brain produces as a result of which a low production f other neurotransmitters is triggered which includes epinephrine, resulting in chronic fatigue.
Depression Research in European Society study that was conducted in six European countries in 2000 by European Neuropsychopharmacology showed that out of 78,463 participants 73 percent reported tiredness as a major symptom of depression.
Patients with depression feel tired physically even after a whole night's sleep and without any physical activity. This causes mental tiredness as well and makes the patient incapable of getting involved in any activity.
A study in 2014 published in Depression and Anxiety shows that in the patients with depression the diagnosis and treatment of fatigue is poor and this leads to long persisting and a more severe depression.
The process of homeostasis in your body tells you that you have been awake for long enough and need sleep. The process of circadian in your body maintains the sleep and staying awake during the day.
These twin systems that help you sleep are messed up by depression.
A study conducted in 2009 that was published in International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice showed that out of 531 patients suffering from depression 97 percent reported the problem of insomnia. Out of these 97 percent,59 percent reported that the lack of sleep adversely affected their quality of life, 40 percent napped during the day and 34 percent said that insomnia was extremely distressing.
Further, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2011 shows that people who are not suffering from depression but do have insomnia pose a two-fold risk of developing depression unlike people with no sleep problems.
Lastly, a study conducted in 2000 that was published in Sleep Medicine Reviews showed that insomnia that persists even after depression can cause recurrence of clinical depression. Therefore it is important to keep this in mind while seeking treatment for depression.
Anger And Irritability
Apart from prolonging and obvious feeling of despair, there is another emotion which is a characteristic of depression and that is anger.
Anger is often accompanied by irritability and the tendency to lose your cool over trivial things.
Any small thing is enough to trigger an outburst from a person who is depressed and they will not refrain from lashing out at others whether it is family, a friend or even a stranger.
Even if a depressed person is not expressing their rage verbally they might be raging inside.
A study published in Journal of the American Medical Association conducted in 2013 showed that a depressive condition that is combined with anger is more severely intense than regular clinical depression and is more likely to stay longer. This kind of serious, rage infested and prolong depression can also lead to other disorders like anxiety and substance abuse.
Anxiety is not just a feeling of being nervous about things that have happened in past or are yet to happen. Anxiety disorder interferes terribly with the peace of a person's mind making them obsess over trivial things to the point of paranoia.
When a person is suffering from depression, an anxiety attack can push you to the edge and put you deeper in the darkness. For example, a small personal setback can make a depress person to reprimand themselves for the failure and bring themselves to a point of hopeless despair.
They cannot distract themselves and can have physical symptoms like palpitations, sweating or rapid heartbeat.
A study conducted in 2000 that was published in Comprehensive Psychiatry showed that out of 255 patients of depression 50.6 percent had an anxiety disorder and out of these 27 percent reported to have fear of social situations, 16 percent had some kind of phobia like fear of open spaces and 14 percent had panic disorder.
Lack Of Concentration And Short Term Memory Loss
In the world of today where everything is moving at a fast pace, you might feel distracted or overwhelmed from time to time. But just in case you have been feeling miserable constantly and you cannot concentrate on one thing for more than a few seconds you may be suffering from depression.
According to a 2004 study that was published in Psychiatry Research deterioration in concentration is one of the most frequently occurring symptoms in depression.
Another study made in 2015 that was published in Cognition and Emotion showed that patients with depression have also reported having difficulty in recalling information on short term basis.
You may notice that you have become more forgetful and less productive. This short term loss of memory may be a sign of depression.
People who seem to be a little wild and give the impression of living their lives on the edge may be suffering from depression especially if this is something they never did in past.
But that definitely does not mean that just because you are adventurous you are depressed. However, if someone has other symptoms of depression and is emotionally confused becomes suddenly interested in substance abuse a red alarm should start ringing.
Risky sexual behavior, alcoholism, substance abuse and gambling might be just ways in which a person is trying to cope with their inner sufferings and trying to escape their feelings.
A study conducted in 2015 and was published in the Annals of General Psychiatry showed that out of 923 people who often engaged in risky sexual behavior 35.71 percent had moderate symptoms of depression and 5.62 percent had symptoms of severe depression. Unfortunately, this exploitation provides only temporary relief and makes the depression worse with the passage of time.
Loss Of Interest
Loss of interest in social contact and social activity plus not being able to experience pleasure is a condition which is known as anhedonia medically.
People suffering from depression may want to isolate themselves and spend time alone without doing anything as they are unable to derive any pleasure from any activity.
A study made in 2009 that was published in Neuroreport showed that when healthy and depressed people were made to listen to their favorite music while getting an MRI scan of their brains to make comparison, the MRI of depressed patients showed less activity in the part of their brain associated with pleasure than the activity in healthy people's brain.
Anhedonia is a characteristic central to depression and is also one of the earliest indications. So if you or someone you know does not want to go to movies anymore when all they ever wanted to do was catch a good movie when free and they seem to be sad all the time then you should take notice and seek medical help.
Change In Weight
Most of the patients suffering from depression suffer a sudden loss of appetite apart from constant mood swings. Just the thought of food makes them queasy even if they have not eaten a single decent meal the whole day. As a result, they start losing weight but not in a healthy manner.
A study conducted in 2002 that was published in Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry showed that loss of appetite is one of the most common symptoms of MDD.
On the contrary but less frequent than weight loss, some people might start gaining weight during the depression as they turn towards food for comfort.
According to a study made in 2009 that was published in the American Journal of Public Health patients with severe depression had reported having a gradual increase in abdominal weight and body weight on the whole.
If you or someone you know show these symptoms it might be an indication of depression.
Thinking Of Death And Suicide
When people get old they may start to think about death and that is not uncommon. However, if these thoughts are triggered by depression and especially if they are suicidal thoughts then it is something that should not be taken lightly.
A study conducted in 2002 that was published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry showed that suicidal thoughts are associated with mood disorders like depression.
Another study conducted in 2005 that was published in the British Journal of General Practice showed that many factors play a role in an older person's inclination to harm themselves and depression is the most common among them.
The suicidal tendency can range from recurrent thoughts, physical self-harm like cutting your wrist, online searches and planning.