Recognizing symptoms of depression

Published 1:44 pm Friday, October 9, 2009

If you have ever seen a TV advertisement for a depression medication or treatment center, then you’ve probably heard the basic symptoms of depression.

Do you have difficulty sleeping, is your appetite affected, do you feel sluggish or tired all of the time, have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy, are you isolating yourself, do you often feel depressed or hopeless?

It is estimated that 18 million Americans struggle with depression.

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All of us have times when we feel down, discouraged, sad or hopeless, but for the person struggling with depression, their experience goes beyond just feeling down for a few days.

Depression affects every area of a person’s life on several levels; it affects their thoughts, their emotions, their physical functioning, their relationships and their spiritual life. That’s why the symptoms seem to be so broad and cover the spectrum of a person’s life.

We almost do a disservice to people by naming depression after an emotion—this makes it sound like a person only experiences this on an emotional level. It is much more than that.

For the person experiencing depression, thoughts become very negative and absolute, they have a hard time thinking or believing that life can improve.

Physically, they feel tired all of the time, they struggle falling asleep or they sleep excessively and still feel tired, their appetite is affected by either eating too much or having no appetite at all.

Relationally, they pull away from friends, family or co-workers. They get tired of others telling them what to do to feel better or others repeatedly asking what is wrong. Being around others becomes a constant reminder that something is wrong with them. Isolation feels like an easier option.

Spiritually they may struggle to find God in the midst of this deep dark hole. God feels far away and indifferent to their problems. On an emotional level, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness or despair can become overwhelming. It is more than just feeling sad.

Major depression can be a very serious condition, if you or someone you know appears to be struggling with depression, seek out a trained professional who can help accurately diagnose and treat these very serious symptoms.