Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a complex subject, as it can take on many different forms and it has a variety of causes, as well as symptoms. Unlike a physical injury or illness, depression is hard to ‘see’, but it is no less painful or difficult to work through. Depression affects people in a wide variety of different ways. Symptoms of depression may include a negative change in thought, in mood, or in behaviour. Depression can happen to everyone in varying degrees or levels – from mild (feeling ‘down’) to very serious (even becoming suicidal).

When it comes to a person’s thinking, depression causes people to be far more negative and pessimistic. Small obstacles can become almost insurmountable. It can be difficult to concentrate.

Mood changes include feeling more sad. A depressed person becomes discouraged and at times overwhelmed. They lose the ability to enjoy things that they normally would. In fact, the ability to experience pleasure is dramatically affected by depression.

Behavioural changes can include becoming quite lethargic. There may be a high degree of fatigue. A depressed person often feels sleepy and can lack the energy to make decisions. These are some of the common symptoms of a person experiencing a bout of depression.

Causes of Depression

Where does depression come from? There are many possible causes of depression. Sometimes depression comes from stress. Life can be tough. Life can be difficult.

I was driving my car a few years back, on the way to pick up one of our teenagers from their work. I came to an intersection and, bang, there was this huge accident right in front of me. Thankfully, no-one was seriously hurt. I am sure that for those people involved in that accident, it was a stressful day. They would have experienced some low mood for a while, especially the young girl who was responsible for the accident. Her car was in a mess and she was really shaken up. Sometimes just the stress of life and the various crises that come along can be a cause of depressing emotions.

Sometimes it can be grief that causes depression. If you have ever lost a loved one, you will know what it is to go through a period of low mood and to feel down because of the loss. Or maybe it is losing something else that is valuable in our life.

Anger can cause depression, as can disappointment, guilt, fear, and negativity. Sometimes it is adrenaline exhaustion, which was what happened to me back in 2002. I was living at a crazy pace and trying to do too much. There can also be genetic causes of depression or biological issues such as brain chemistry. Some forms of depression may require anti-depressant medication to help bring about normal chemical balance in a person’s physical body.  So we can see that there is a wide variety of causes of depression.

Depression is an age-old problem, although in our generation there is an unprecedented epidemic of depression. It is a universal problem and it is no respecter of persons. It is everywhere. Depression is often referred to as ‘the common cold of the emotions’ because it seems to be so frequent that many people are catching it. It is very possible that either you or someone you know may at some time have to battle with some form of depression.

It is estimated that one in eight men will have a severe bout of depression somewhere in their life and one in three women will have a severe bout of depression. Women are twice as likely to get depressed as men. There are a lot of theories about why that is the case. One of the things that people believe is a reason why women get more depressed is that women tend to feel their depression. Men tend to act out their depression more than they feel it. Sometimes when men are depressed, they may not feel sad, but they may become irritable or angry. They may also immerse themselves in their work or become involved in adrenaline producing activities that may become addictive. Because men do not feel their depression as much as women, they often do not recognise it. However, both men and women are affected by depression, by low mood.

Tomorrow: Attitudes towards Depression