Depression is when emotions such as despair won’t go away. It changes how you think, feel and function in daily activities even though feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. Just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming.
Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and uninterested.
No matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. You can take the first steps to feeling better and overcoming the problem.
Bipolar disorder, also known as insane depression, involves serious shifts in moods, energy, thinking, and behavior. It looks so similar to depression when in the low phase, it is often overlooked and misdiagnosed.
Indications and symptoms of depression
10 common symptoms of depression:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Feels like there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. A change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
- Anger or irritability. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, slow, and physically drained.
- Self-hatred. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Careless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
Causes and possibility factors
Despite what you may have seen in TV ads, read in newspaper articles, or maybe even heard from a doctor, depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Having too much or too little of any brain chemical that can be simply cured with medication.
Biological factors can certainly play a role in depression, including inflammation, hormonal changes, immune system suppression, abnormal activity in certain parts of the brain, nutritional deficiencies, and shrinking brain cells.
When to seek professional help
If support from family and friends and positive lifestyle changes aren’t enough, it may be time to seek help from a mental health professional.
Therapy. Consulting a therapist who can provide you tools to treat depression from a variety of angles and motivate you to take the action necessary. It can also offer you the skills and insight to prevent depression from coming back.
Medication. While it can help relieve symptoms of depression in some people, it isn’t a cure and is not usually a long-term solution. It also comes with side effects and other drawbacks so it’s important to learn all the facts to make an informed decision.