Take a close look into depression › Identify signs and symptoms of major depression.
What is depression? Is it real? Do other’s think it is real? Why can’t I get these thoughts out of my head? These are just some of the questions that come to mind when exploring what depression means to an individual as well as the people with whom he or she is surrounded. Depression is deeply personal to people affected by its symptoms. Intense feelings of sadness and deep, painful, thoughts of hopelessness can haunt people battling depression. Hopelessness and thoughts of intense worthlessness can 'pop' into the heads of depressed people. Contrary to what some people, unfamiliar with depression, believe and express to others whom are depressed—these feelings are not contrived. These feelings and thoughts are a real struggle for millions of people.
If you are reading this with some skepticism, please, imagine waking up every day, looking in the mirror as you brush your teeth, and crying while thoughts of deep hopelessness ring in your head. I’ve personally spoken with many people who describe scenarios in which they literally cry, unexpectedly, during thirty-second commercials, switch from starving to binge eating for months, weeks of sleeplessness, irritability, uncontrollable thoughts of suicide, and a routine planning or ideation of carrying out an actual suicide—everyday. Imagine the real pain a depressed person feels all day and night. One of my clients described her life with depression as 'being drowned hourly.' While hopelessness, a disconnect from others, and thoughts of suicide can be on the mind of a depressed person, it is extremely important for family members, friends, and coworkers to recognize expressions of these dreadful thoughts as emergent. Any expression of these serious expressions of sadness, hopelessness, expression of personal physical harm, or utterance of suicide—must be taken very seriously. If you have respect for the dignity of any person, it is critical to intervene in an appropriate way to keep this illness from destroying health, love, and the life of a depressed person.
How can I intervene if I think my loved one is depressed?
Depressed people exhibit the above mentioned behavior in relation to their expressed thoughts caused by an illness. Think of it this way—would you tell a diabetic to 'suck it up?' No. You wouldn’t say to a diabetic, 'Hey—don’t slip into a coma, tuff up, you don’t need medical help!' Would you? In a diabetic person, hypoglycemia occurs when a treatment to lower elevated blood glucose inaccurately matches the body's physiological need, and therefore causes the glucose to fall to a below-normal. When this happens, a diabetic person can slip into a diabetic coma. In a depressed person, influences from biological, social, and psychological experiences shape an illness called depression. Biologically, physical illness can influence depression. Social conditions like poverty, loss, and human tragedy can form depression. And psychologically, severe stress can influence depression. There are several factors to consider when exploring depression. The fact is—depression is real.
How do I identify signs and symptoms of major depression?
Mild depression is very common and can be described as a low feeling or a general feeling of sadness lasting less than two weeks. The type of depression of today’s discussion is called 'major depression.' Major depression is a mental disorder characterized by sustained depression of mood and feeling of hopelessness. Diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode, according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition (DSM-IV), include a depressed mood, a marked reduction of interest or pleasure in virtually all activities, or both, lasting for at least two weeks. In addition to the symptoms mentioned in the last sentence, three or more of the following symptoms must be present:
- gain or loss of weight
- increased or decreased sleep
- hyperactive or hypoactive physical gestures
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- diminished ability to concentrate
- recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If you suspect you or a friend, coworker, or loved one is suffering from depression, please contact a medical professional immediately to get help. While we hope to shed light on many of the issues we face daily—we are not offering medical advice or attempting to diagnose depression in anyone.