Many do not understand what depression looks like, thinking that persistent sadness is the main symptom to be identified. While sadness can be a symptom, it is often more likely that a mental health professional will diagnosis depression looking at a variety of other symptoms. Depression may display subtle and confusing signs leading a person to believe that “this is just the way my life is,” not that they have a treatable disease that is casting a shadow over their life and the lives of those around them.
The Statistics of Depression
The Center for Disease Control and Office for National Statistics report that almost 20 million Americans suffer from depression. The data concludes that up to 25% of women and up to 12% of men will become clinically depressed in their lifetime, with the majority never being diagnosed. With a poor understanding of what depression looks like, many endure years with a variety of symptoms that impact their daily lives without ever considering they may be depressed.
Depression Triggers Variety of Symptoms
Depression may trigger symptoms that are not typically thought of with depression. Constant tiredness, insomnia, poor appetite, forgetfulness, or being unable to focus and concentrate often lead one to think they are just working too hard, not getting enough sleep, or feeling stress from daily life. With depression you can still function, continue to work, have relationships, raise a family and continue to push yourself from day to day, month to month.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Although each case of depression may appear differently, there are several common factors to look for:
- Changes in weight, sleeping habits or appetite – these symptoms vary from person to person. For example, one person may want to sleep all the time, while others may battle insomnia; losing weight from poor appetite is a symptom for one while weight gain from eating all the time fits another person.
- Physical symptoms that do not go away – includes recurring headaches, back aches, digestive or GI disorders, chronic fatigue, menstrual issues or aches and pains that persist.
- Low mood – This is the most obvious symptom of depression; low mood may also transcend into low self-esteem, becoming self-critical or judgmental, and finding oneself irritable with friends, family and co-workers; a low mood may also “flip” at a certain time of the day where you may feel more animated, anxious, and energetic.
- General apathy and lack of interest or pleasure in normal daily activities – You may feel listless, washed out, the world or your life flat or colorless. Depression often promotes isolation with sufferers not wanting to be around others, not wanting to go out and “have fun,” tending to spend more and more time at home.
- Low sex drive – In addition to being a symptom of depression, low sex drive may have a biological cause as depression is linked with hormonal changes.
- Forgetfulness or difficulty concentrating – decreased ability to recall the details of an event or situation, which impacts on problem solving and decision making skills.
- Pessimistic or hopeless outlook on life – a depressed person is more apt to dwell on negative consequences, or see upcoming events or social activities in a negative manner; they may experience feelings of guilt, helplessness or thoughts of suicide
Women and Depression
In the book “Listening to Depression” women often engage in behaviors that are “masked depression.” Depression for women may include compulsive shopping, working, eating or drinking. Women may also say they are not depressed but rather they just do not care – an attitude of indifference can signal depression.
Depression Help in Atlanta
Call the office for an appointment to discuss your symptoms and determine your next steps. Dr. Hege has decades of successful treatment for those suffering from depression.