With the advent of social media, easy access to information, and the rise in popularity of reality television, depression has found itself in a focus it has not had before. TV programs like “13 Reasons Why” have helped open more people’s eyes to the sometimes devastating effects of depression on young minds. But more often than not, people are left wondering what exactly is depression?
What is Depression?
Depression is a general term that encompasses more than just feeling sad or having negative thoughts. It relates to an individual’s mood, energy levels, and the way they perceive themselves. Those who suffer from depression often struggle with both physical and emotional symptoms that are not necessarily related to the actual cause of their sadness.
Depression can be temporary or permanent depending on the individual. Though some people are able to fight off depression for months or years, others succumb to it more quickly. When permanent depression is finally defeated, it can leave a lasting impact on relationships with family and friends, work productivity, health status, and even mood.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Depression can have a range of symptoms and it will vary by the person affected. Depression symptoms are both emotional and physical.
Emotional symptoms of Depression
Depression is often characterized by severe mood swings and severe moodiness. Those suffering from depression can often be found crying or enraged at the slightest provocation. They may exhibit no remorse for their actions and those closest to them may be left unsure as to what triggered such a dramatic change in their loved one’s behavior. It can also result in agoraphobic tendencies where people avoid social environments and severely limit the amount of time spent outside of their homes.
Depression can be challenging to identify in the early stages, especially in children and adolescents. Children and teens who suffer from emotional instability or irritability may be displaying signs of depression, but may not acknowledge it themselves. Additionally, major depressive disorder has been shown to be more common in adults than previously thought. These adults tend to experience symptoms such as low self-esteem, social withdrawal, and poor work performance over a longer period of time.
Often people going through a depressive episode will feel unusually tired and lethargic. Even social and intellectual activity can be difficult and it is difficult to stay focused. They may experience a lack of motivation and their memories and sense of time seem to be distorted. People suffering from depression often experience headaches, stomach pains, problems sleeping, and less interest in their hobbies or activities.
Depression can often be confused with other psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Those suffering from severe depressive episodes may experience memory loss, paranoia, delusions, disorientation, poor concentration and inability to maintain attention. They may crave alcohol or other substances to help them relax and even feel an increased desire for sex. In some severe cases, suicide can also be a result of severe depression.
Physical Symptoms of Depression
However, the effects of depression on the body are no joke. Depression is associated with a multitude of physical symptoms on top of all its emotional ones. Depression has been associated with the development of cataracts, high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart disease as well as migraines.
What should I do if I know someone who is depressed?
If you or someone you love is currently experiencing signs of depression, there are several things that can be done to help reduce the negative impact it is having on your life. It often takes professional intervention to treat depression with medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. But through perseverance and dedication, many people have discovered new ways of coping with their mood disorders.
One of the most helpful things anyone can do when they are suffering from depression is talk about their feelings.
Talking to someone you trust about the thoughts and feelings that plague your daily life can help alleviate anxiety and allow you to better manage your feelings. For many people who suffer from depression, simply having the opportunity to express their wants, needs, fears, and concerns can be an enormous relief. Others find sharing their story is a way of easing some of the burden of the depression they are feeling.
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