Depression is a “whole body” illness involving mood, thought and changes in your physical health. It may affect appetite, sleep, feelings about self, and thinking ability. It may also affect relationships and performance at work. Clinical depression is more than the “blues” or the normal feelings we have around loss. In depression, symptoms are more intense, disabling, and lasting. The usual coping skills don’t work.
Depression is not a personal weakness. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Many have a family history of mood disorders that contributes to the onset. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. The good news is that more than 80% of depressed people can be treated quickly and effectively. The key is to recognize the symptoms of depression early.
General Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent sad or “empty” mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia, early-morning waking or oversleeping)
- Eating disturbances (loss of appetite, weight gain or loss)
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Excessive crying
If five or more symptoms of depression persist for more than two weeks or interfering with work or family life, a thorough diagnosis would help. Treatment for depression usually involves some combination of talking therapy, the possibility of medication and lifestyle changes. Finding out which approach makes the most sense for you is a good reason to visit with a therapist.