Feeling unhappy or downcast from time to time is a normal reaction. This is how people usually process some of their negative experiences in life such as the loss of a loved one, or going through failure. However, this feeling should not last for a long time and can be relieved through other outlets like crying or talking it out with your friends.
Depression, on the other hand, is a medical condition that must be addressed with the help of a mental health professional. It does just fade away as you would like it to, and is hard to treat by yourself. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression is already one of the most common mental health illnesses in the US.
Although depression can sometimes manifest as sadness, it is a totally different emotional state. Depression is more debilitating and can have serious consequences if left unaddressed. If you suspect that you are suffering from depression, get yourself checked at mental health treatment centers immediately so you can get the diagnosis and treatment that you need.
Aside from professional care, there are also a few things that you can do in order to improve or alleviate your condition, such as exercise and meditation. Proper care for your mental health starts with being able to differentiate sadness and depression. While the symptoms can vary from one person to another, there are some similar circumstances and experiences that can help you identify the signs of depression. Here are the 4 most common ones:
An Enduring Feeling Of Hopelessness And Gloom
Normally, sadness, anxiety, and other negative emotions would pass over after a few days. It should also be easy to identify the cause of these heavy feelings. But if you have been gloomy for more than half a month and cannot pinpoint the reason why, it may not be just about being in a low mood anymore.
Depression tends to last longer and also weighs more heavily on a person. Patients who have been clinically diagnosed with depression often describe themselves as feeling lifeless, hopeless, empty, lost, or like “living in a black hole.” You may be having similar feelings, or have been experiencing attacks of desperation and misery without even knowing why. There could also be feelings of self-loathing and guilt, or a sense of worthlessness.
Inability To Function Normally
When people feel sad, some might prefer to close in on themselves for one or two days as they cope with their situation, but are then able to go back to their normal daily activities after this period. They could still mingle in society and properly perform the tasks that they are expected to do.
In contrast, depression can affect a person’s thoughts and feelings in ways that prevent them from doing even the most mundane things like sleeping, eating, and enjoying life, not to mention working or studying which requires more effort on their part. Losing the ability to feel enjoyment and pleasure, or becoming indifferent in even the things that you used to enjoy, like your former hobbies or social activities, is thus a cause for concern.
Significant Changes In Weight And Sleeping Patterns
Unless you have been intentionally changing your diet to lose or gain weight, noticeable changes in their body weight could also be signs of depression. This is because a person’s appetite can also be affected by depression, which causes them either suddenly eat a lot more or much less than they used to.
Sleep can also be seriously disrupted by depression. If you notice a change in your sleeping pattern such as developing insomnia or having difficulty in sleeping properly, or the reverse which is sleeping too much, it may be a good idea to consult with a mental health specialist.
Depression can also manifest as sudden behavioral changes, such as becoming much more irritable or agitated. You suddenly have a very low tolerance, and you often lose control of your temper even for minor issues that did not matter so much before.
You could also be feeling lethargic, as if you are always tired and drained of energy even if you just stayed at home all without doing anything strenuous. It is difficult to move about, as if your body feels heavy, and even simple tasks can get you exhausted.
Other behavioral changes may appear as recklessness, wherein you feel an urge to disregard any danger to yourself and engage in risky activities like extreme sports, gambling, or substance abuse. Aside from this, depression can also affect your concentration, which makes you forget things and get easily distracted. You may also have difficulties in focusing and in making decisions.