Mental Health Awareness – Depression

All of us have changes in mood. We may feel happy one day and sad the next; this is quite normal and does not mean that we depression or any other mood disorder for that matter. This is only the case when the mood is disturbed for an extended period of time.

Mood disorders are also known as affective disorders and include conditions where mood is elevated, such as mania, or where mood is lowered, such as major depressive disorder (otherwise known as clinical depression). Another mood disorder is bipolar disorder; this was previously known as manic depression, in which moods can fluctuate between low levels & mania. The most common and well-known mood disorder is major depressive disorder.

The symptoms of depression can be complex and vary widely between people. But as a general rule, if you’re depressed, you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy.The symptoms persist for weeks or months and are bad enough to interfere with your work, social life and family life.

There are many other symptoms of depression and you’re unlikely to have all of those listed below.

Psychological symptoms

The psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling anxious or worried
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself

Physical symptoms

The physical symptoms of depression include:

  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
  • constipation
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • lack of energy
  • low sex drive (loss of libido)
  • changes to your menstrual cycle
  • disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning

Social symptoms

The social symptoms of depression include:

  • not doing well at work
  • avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities
  • neglecting your hobbies and interests
  • having difficulties in your home and family life

Severities of depression

Depression can often come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. Many people try to cope with their symptoms without realising they’re unwell. It can sometimes take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.

Doctors describe depression by how serious it is:

  • mild depression – has some impact on your daily life
  • moderate depression – has a significant impact on your daily life
  • severe depression – makes it almost impossible to get through daily life; a few people with severe depression may have psychotic symptoms

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