Disorders and Treatment
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Sometimes the last person to recognize the onset of depression is the one who is depressed.
When depression moves in, it can bring exhaustion, mental slowness, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, self-loathing, confusion, aches and pains, lack of energy, lack of concentration and sadness.
What it doesn’t bring is self-awareness and clarity.
Everyone is sad sometimes. Everyone is irritable or frustrated or exhausted. How can we tell when it rises to the level of depression?
Eating Are you eating too much, or not at all? Is this a change from your normal? Is it accompanied by any of these other symptoms? Have you unintentionally gained or lost a great deal (more than 5%) of your body weight in a short period of time, like a month? These changes might indicate depression.
Irritability or Restlessness Are you unable to relax or feel happy? Are you constantly annoyed by those around you? Has your personality altered from the person everyone wants to spend time with to the person everyone wants to avoid? You might be acting out just how miserable you feel.
Memory Are you having troubles remembering things, solving problems or making decisions, at work or in your personal life? Does the problem seem to have become significantly worse over a short period? Severe depression can sometimes cause loss of cognitive ability, leading to the nickname pseudodementia.
Pain Are you experiencing aches and pains of unknown origin? Do you often feel like you’re “coming down with something” that never really materializes? Achiness and non-specific pain are frequent symptoms of depression.
Reckless Behavior Are you drinking too much or taking illegal drugs? Do you engage in risky behaviors? You might be trying to mask the psychic pain of depression.
Sadness Do you find yourself feeling unremittingly sad, even though there is no direct cause to point to? Has this been going on for some time? The intensity of sadness, the duration and the lack of cause are a triad of symptoms that point directly to depression as their cause.
Sleep Do you find yourself lying awake at night, unable to drift off to sleep? Or do you find yourself sleeping all the time, day and night? This might not be a problem if it happens only occasionally, or if this has been your pattern for a long time. If this represents a change in your norm, though, and it is accompanied by any of these other symptoms, it might be an indicator of depression.
Social Withdrawal Do you find yourself turning down invitations from your friends? Are you most content alone? Is this a change from before? Social withdrawal is a significant sign of depression. The danger it poses is that it is often in isolation that suicidal thoughts intrude and are acted upon.
Suicidal Thoughts People who are not depressed do not contemplate suicide. This is as definitive a diagnosis – and emergency – as you can get.
Work Issues Are you finding it increasingly difficult to function at work? Do you experience simple tasks you’ve done for a long time getting harder to perform? Has this been going on for a while? If so, these might indicate depression.
A Subdued World Experience Are you having trouble finding humor where it was once enjoyable? Are colors dull and music unsatisfying? Often, when depressed, interaction with the larger world can become subdued or even painful.
Seek help. See your primary care physician and rule out physical causes of your symptoms if you are in doubt.
Talk to a good friend and ask them what they see.
See a psychologist, psychiatrist or clinical social worker. Engage in talk therapy. Take the antidepressant medications you are prescribed.
Most importantly, don’t ignore your symptoms.
There is no shame to suffering from depression. Nearly 15 million Americans suffer from this disease, not quite 7% of the nation’s population. Unfortunately, nearly two out of three sufferers don’t seek treatment.
With an 80% success rate, there is no reason to avoid seeking relief of your symptoms. Call you doctor today and get started.
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