Depression is a very real, very serious condition that can be treated. It’s more than just “feeling blue.” And for those suffering in the midst of its grip, it can feel like a black cloud descended and will never go away. Imagine living life in a “muted” way, where every positive emotion feels diluted. That’s a symptom of depression, along with a number of others.
For those suffering from depression, recognizing the signs are the first step to handling the condition. The second is being willing to seek help. Thanks to years of ill-informed people attaching a stigma to the condition, many who suffer are afraid to come forward and ask for help. It’s viewed as a sign of weakness, a sign of instability. Unfortunately, due to this misconception many choose to suffer alone with a condition that may or may not go away on its own.
In reality, depression is a real illness that’s characterized by an imbalance of brain chemicals. It is a condition that does not signal a sign of weakness, nor is it something a person can just brush away. It can be hereditary, but that’s not always the case. What actually causes depression isn’t known, but it can be triggered by such things as hormonal changes, a traumatic event, every-day life, heredity, and such things as substance abuse or other serious illness.
The basic symptoms of depression can be troublesome in and of themselves. They include such things as:
* An extended period of sadness that may or may not include crying.
* Major alterations in sleep and eating patterns. Weight loss or gain may go along with it.
* A feeling of indifference or extreme negativity, like things will never get better.
* Fatigue, lethargy.
* A sense of guilt or worthlessness.
* A loss of ability to concentrate or make decisions.
* Diminished feelings of pleasure in taking part in activities that once drew a person’s attention.
* Thoughts of death or suicide.
* Pains that are unexplained.
These symptoms, of course, can manifest in a number of other conditions. But, if they are present in a person for an extended period of time or if they begin to interfere with daily life, it’s time to see a doctor. Generally, depression is diagnosed if at least five or more of its major symptoms are present and have been so for at least several weeks.
There are medications that can take the edge off depression and enable a person to go about their life “feeling” things again. Therapy, too, can help a person deal with any root issues that may be adding to the sense of helplessness, such as a traumatic event or even substance abuse.
Feeling blue is one thing – depression is another. A sense of sadness generally passes as happier thoughts or pursuits take hold. But for the person enduring depression, finding the happiness in life can be difficult. Even things that should bring joy feel muted.
Getting help for depression is the first step to regaining control of a life. It’s a serious and real condition that demands attention. The person suffering with it does not have to do so.
If a single symptom of depression is present, it doesn’t necessarily mean the condition is present. But if several show up for a period of time, seeking help is the smart choice.