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What are the Symptoms of Depression?

What is Depression?

We all feel sad at some point or the other of our lives. People often interchangeably use the terms sadness and depression. However, feeling sad is different than being depressed.

According to the American Psychological Association, “Depression is prolonged, intense melancholy or sadness. It disrupts daily routines and may result in physical symptoms including discomfort, weight loss or increase, irregular sleeping patterns, or a lack of vitality.”

Signs you have Depression

Although depression is something that goes on with the mind, there are certain physical signs and symptoms of depression. These physical symptoms of depression can be classified in certain categories.

Signs based on the severity

  • Mild Depression Symptoms: Early signs of depression can indicate mild depression showing symptoms such as sadness, tears, emptiness, or a sense of helplessness. Angry outbursts, impatience or frustration, even over trivial issues, disruptions in sleep, hopeless outlook, changes in appetite, self-loathing.
  • Moderate Depression Symptoms: This is a level higher than mild, and signs of severe depression can include Unproductivity, feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, excessive worrying, and sensitive attitude.
  • Severe Depression Symptoms: In this stage, depression goes on to the major depression symptoms, which means it reaches the Clinical Spectrum. Here, a person also loses touch with the reality (a state of psychosis). Hence, it is also known as Depression with Psychotic Features. This includes symptoms like Psychomotor Retardation, Hallucinations, Delusions, Suicidal Ideation, Intent, and Attempts.

Signs based on Stages of Life

  • Signs of Depression in Teens: Increased crankiness, heightened irritation, or isolating behavior, difficulties in academics, they may not be gaining weight at a healthy rate, or they could be acquiring too much.
  • Prenatal Depression Symptoms: These are the symptoms of depression that are seen during the Pregnancy. Symptoms include Low self-esteem, recurring anxiety about your baby, smoking or drinking alcohol, suicidal ideations, inability to experience pleasure.
  • Postpartum Depression Symptoms: Sever mood swings, excessive crying, Fear of not being a good mother, Restlessness, Panic or Anxiety attacks, thoughts about harming yourself or your baby, Fatigue, Paranoia

Gender differences persist between the signs of depression in men and women.

  • Symptoms of Depression in women: Women experience the symptoms of depression mentioned above along with the general ones. They may also experience Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and Perimenopausal Depression. These might include symptoms like sleeping problems, mood swings, hot flashes, morning sickness, bloating and breast tenderness.
  • Symptoms of Depression in men: Feeling hopeless or empty, feeling tired, sleeping difficulties, no pleasure from otherwise pleasurable activities. Signs can also include unhealthy coping strategies like working all the time, drinking too much, escapist, or risky behaviors, and controlling or violent behavior.

Signs can be identified even based on Types of Depression

  • Signs of Bipolar Depression: This was formerly known as manic depression. So, Manic Depression Symptoms include symptoms like extreme mood swings between episodes of emotional highs and lows. These individuals can feel energetic and upbeat at one instance but hopeless, tired, sad, and worthless at the very next. It also includes symptoms like distorted thought patterns, delusions, and hallucinations.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms: Seasonal Depression is the kind of depression where people experience symptoms of depression during the fall and winter season as a result of lack of sunlight. Symptoms include persistently feeling sad, angry or being easily agitated, losing interest, difficulty concentrating, feeling tired and fatigued most of the times.

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Depression Symptoms Test

A person must have five depressive symptoms daily for almost the whole day for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with Depression.

Having said that, it is always advisable to administer the test of depression from or under the guidance of practicing mental health professionals as they are qualified and trained to administer as well as interpret such tests.

Few examples of measurement instruments include the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale- 17, Patient Health Questionnaire- 9, Beck Depression Inventory, The Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), among many others.

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Treatment of Depression

No matter how difficult it is, fortunately, depression is controllable. Recovery can be ensured with the aid of psychotherapy and antidepressants.

Psychotherapy can involve Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Mindfulness Therapy among various others in order to help the individuals change their cognitions and rely on patterns of behaviors that are healthier.

Medications in the category of SSRIs, SNRIs and Antidepressants can be used for the treatment of depression. However, there are certain side effects of antidepressants such as blurred vision, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, and so on. As a result of this, it’s advisable to be mindful of the early signs of depression so that it can be stopped or avoided from reading the clinical depression stage and be dealt with using therapy only.

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