Depression is a serious medical illness1 that causes a person to feel intensely sad or lose all joy in life, driving the person to lose interest in things he used to enjoy and become hopeless.
Every individual goes through phases of feeling low, down, sad, or empty. Under normal circumstances, such feelings will go away after some time. But when an individual persistently experiences intense feelings of sadness2 and emptiness lasting 2 weeks or longer, and the feelings escalate to despair, it is no longer considered normal; the individual may have been manifesting symptoms of clinical depression.
Depression impacts significantly on daily functions and activities of its victims. In essence, depressed persons no longer enjoy the activities they used to look forward to; they lose interest, motivation, energy, etc. They find it extremely difficult to get through the day. The lows of depression can be so overwhelming that some sufferers may feel that they would never get better and think about and even attempt to commit suicide.
For some people, depression presents with feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and/or worthlessness. It can also manifest with feeling lifeless, lethargic, irritable, or languid. In men depression can manifest itself as anger, aggressiveness, and restlessness3. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that people with depression don’t experience or manifest the same symptoms,4which may vary based on gender, age, and to a certain degree according to culture.
Most of manifesting symptoms match DSM criteria and more importantly people with depression do get better with treatment. Understanding the illness -including risk factors, its symptoms, and treatment options- is the first step to take in addressing the problem and start the journey towards recovery.
A person might be suffering from clinical depression if she/he has 5 or more of the following symptoms5:
- Depressed mood
- Anhedonia (marked decrease or loss of pleasure)
- Significant weight loss (without dieting) or weight gain
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation almost every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
- Feeling worthless or excessive guilt nearly every day
- Diminished concentration or indeciveness almost every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death or recurrent suicidal ideation, plan, or attempt
- National Institute of Mental Health: Depression. US NIH Publication No. 11-3561, Revised 2011.
- WebMD. Article. Getting Help for Depression <http://www.webmd.com/depression/default.htm>
- Helpguide.org. Article. Understanding Depression <http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm>
- Nimh.nih.gov. Article. What are the signs and symptoms of depression? <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/what-are-the-signs-and-symptoms-of-depression.shtml>
- Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR), http://www.psych.org/practice/dsm/dsm-iv-tr
This article was first published at DrDal.com.
- For appointments click here.
- For contact information click here.
- Click here for more information about Dr. Dal’s experience.
- Click here for more information about Dr. Dal’s training.