While it is normal to feel sadness, depression is much more serious than any ordinary slump in mood. How do you tell the difference between the two? Identifying depression can be difficult, but there are certain common signs of the condition. Here are the seven big signs that a person might have depression.
- Unhappiness. The presence of sadness and other downbeat emotions is of course one of the primary marks of depression. While distinguishing between everyday unhappiness and depression can be tricky, the big difference is that in depression, the bad feelings are longer lasting and more severe. For those with depression, the sadness is virtually all-encompassing. Feelings of hopelessness, despair, and self-loathing are typical. A depressed person will often feel helpless and unable to improve their situation.
- Irritability and moodiness. While the negative thoughts and feelings associated with depression often manifest themselves as sadness, they can also show up as other damaging emotions. Some people will react to the negative thoughts filling their mind by becoming angry and frustrated. This means that irritability and moodiness are a frequent sign of depression.
- Loss of interest. One of the commonest symptoms of depression is a loss of interest in activities that were once found enjoyable or interesting. To be a true sign of depression, this loss must be pervasive; loss of interest in just a single hobby or activity is scarcely meaningful. In fact, those with depression are often unable to take joy or pleasure in any part of life.
- Difficulty concentrating. Someone who experiences a major degradation of their ability to concentrate may be suffering from depression. A depressed person may feel as though their brain has become slower and less responsive, or their mind is in a fog. People with depression often struggle to complete tasks they once found easy and simple. This problem may also manifest as a significant drop in productivity and efficiency at work.
- Fatigue. Pervasive tiredness can be a strong indicator of depression. While fatigue manifests itself primarily in physical terms, it can still sometimes originate from mental disorders such as depression. Depressed people may experience feelings of total physical exhaustion, and often find their movements are slowed. Physical fatigue may also be accompanied by sensations of generalized aching, or pain in specific areas without any apparent physical cause.
- Trouble sleeping. Sleeping problems -- whether it's sleeping too much, too little, or suffering from insomnia -- can all be indicators of depression. A depressed person's sleep schedule may also be erratic. A depressed person may oversleep if they feel that getting up and facing the day is either pointless or too difficult. For others, the anxiety and unhappiness they experience make falling asleep difficult.
- Changes in weight and/or appetite. While minor fluctuations in weight and appetite are relatively normal, major changes are often associated with depression. Some depression victims begin to overeat and gain weight as a means of coping with their sadness. Others, as they sink into listlessness and despair, may seemingly lose all interest in eating.
It's important to emphasize that self-diagnosis of depression is not exactly reliable. Anyone who suspects they might have depression should consult with a mental health professional, rather than simply assuming they have the disorder. Similarly, someone who believes a friend or family member might be depressed should try to convince that person to seek expert help. Depression, after all, is an extremely serious condition, capable of ruining a person's life, so getting help is absolutely crucial.