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Understanding Depression

Symptoms of Depression
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep can both be signs of depression.
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep can both be signs of depression.
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.

How do you recognize symptoms of depression in yourself and others? People who suffer from depression have a number of symptoms nearly every day, all day, for at least two weeks. Depressed people have feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness, despair, low self-worth, and helplessness. For some people, depression is marked by anxiety, withdrawal from others, loss of sleep or excessive need for sleep, constant fatigue, loss of appetite or compulsive eating, loss of sexual desire, either lethargy or agitation, an inability to concentrate and make decisions, and possibly exaggerated feelings of guilt.

Many depressed individuals have mental and physical symptoms that seem endless and do not get better with happy events or good news. Some depressed people are so disabled by their condition that they don't have enough energy to call a friend, relative, or medical professional for help. If another person calls for them, these people may refuse to go because they have no hope that they can be helped. However, family and friends should keep trying to get the depressed person to seek help, because up to 15 percent of those who suffer from severe clinical depression commit suicide.

If you're feeling depressed, you're probably having some of these symptoms:

  • Crying spells.
  • Feelings of guilt: "It's all my fault."
  • Self-condemnation or self-hatred: "I can't do anything right."
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness: "It doesn't matter. Nothing matters."
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Changes in appetite and/or noticeable weight changes.
  • Periods of being in frenzied activity, followed by periods of total lethargy.
  • Loss of interest in sex or sudden excessive interest in sex.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Thoughts about dying.
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, backaches, digestive upsets, or other

While these symptoms might sound serious, there is hope. Depression, fortunately, is the most common and most treatable of all mental health problems. We'll learn about some treatments for depression in the next section.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.