Symptoms of depression: What are are they really?
depression: An overview
Symptoms 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
from Ronald J. Comer’s
Additional information by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D