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Symptoms of  depression: What are are they really? 

Symptoms of depression: An overview

depression symtomsSymptoms of depression seem to vary from person-to-person.  Sometimes, they may even be relatively subtle such as indecisiveness, and a slightly low mood.  More frequently, symptoms of depression may include uncontrollable sobbing, feelings of despair, anger and worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, insomnia and variety of other psychological and physical manifestations.  Some people have symptoms of depression that are less severe, allowing them to function.  However, their depression may still rob them of significant effectiveness
in their life and reduce their level of pleasure.  Symptoms of depression are numerous and may have an exacerbating effect on one another, and usually have a tendency to span five areas of functioning: emotional, motivational, behavioral, cognitive and physical.

Symptoms of depression- Emotional symptoms: 

People who are depressed usually describe themselves as sad and dejected.  They sometimes describe themselves as feeling "miserable", “empty”, and “humiliated”.  They usually report getting little pleasure from anything, and frequently lose their sense of humor.  Some also experience anger, anxiety, or agitation.  They also frequently have crying spells.  

Symptoms of depression – Motivational: 

Depressed people typically lose the desire to pursue their usual activities.  Most report a lack of drive, initiative and spontaneity.  They usually have to force themselves to go to work, talk with friends, eat meals or have sex. Some have described this as a “paralysis of will". They just want to stay by themselves and be left alone. 

Many people with symptoms of depression become uninterested in life or wish to die; others may wish they could kill themselves and some actually try.  It has been estimated that between 6% and 15% of people who suffer with severe symptoms of depression commit suicide. 

Symptoms of depression- Behavioral: 

Depressed people are usually less active and much less productive.  They usually spend more time alone and frequently may stay in bed for long periods of time. Many depressed people also move and even speak much more slowly, with a sense of reluctance, and lack of energy. 

Symptoms of depression – Cognitive symptoms

People who are depressed seem to have extremely negative views of themselves, the world around them and of the future.  They consider themselves inadequate, undesirable, inferior and perhaps even evil.  They also frequently blame themselves for nearly every unfortunate experience in their lives, even though they have nothing to do with them.  They also rarely credit themselves with positive achievements. 

General pessimism is a very significant cognitive symptom of depression.  Sufferers are usually convinced that nothing can ever improve in their life, and they frequently feel very helpless to change any aspect of it.  Because they have a tendency to expect the worst, they are likely to procrastinate and be underachievers.  Most are susceptible to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, which also makes them especially vulnerable to suicidal thinking. 

Depressed individuals frequently complain that their intellectual ability is poor.  They may feel confusion with an inability to remember things.  They are easily distracted and unable to solve even small problems.  Laboratory studies have found that people with symptoms of depression perform much worse than non-depressed subjects in memory tasks studying attention and reasoning skills.  However, this may also be reflective of the lack of motivation that individuals experience when depressed. 

Symptoms of depression – Physical symptoms: 

Individuals who are depressed frequently have such physical complaints as headaches, indigestion, constipation, dizzy spells and general pain.  In fact, many depressions have actually been misdiagnosed as medical problems at the very beginning.  Disturbances in appetite and sleep are very common.  Most people with depression symptoms eat less, sleep less and feel much more fatigue than they did prior to their depressive episode.  Some, however, eat and sleep excessively.  Even when they get plenty of rest and sleep, they may still feel tired most of the time. 

Symptoms of depression usually will fall within one of the above categories, but will not always be manifested in a traditional manner. Among the elderly, they frequently are expressed in somatic (symptoms related to the body) or psychosomatic (interaction between the mind and body) ways. An evaluation by a mental health clinician will always be your best option when you, a family or friend have been noticed to have one or more of the above symptoms of depression.

Some information from Ronald J. Comer’s Abnormal Psychology

Additional information by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist  Ph.D Candidate


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