Everyone has experienced off days where they just feel down on themselves. These temporary dips into sadness, malaise, and lethargy are relatively common and are actually to be expected from time to time. However, if these sensations linger for an extended period of time it is quite possible that a condition far more serious than “the blues” has taken hold.
Depression is a mental disorder that can lead to serious emotional, psychological, and physical issues if not properly identified and subsequently treated. Therefore, being able to distinguish between “the blues” and depression is paramount to individual wellness.
Seeing the Signs
Depression causes a broad range of symptoms that can trigger significant physical, mental, and emotional strain. Unfortunately, due to its wide impact, symptoms of depression may seem vague or inconclusive to some patients.
Being able to identify the signs of depression is incredibly important. Depression often goes untreated simply because individuals do not recognize their symptoms. It is common for patients to experience symptoms of depression for extended periods without realizing that their woes may be caused by a singular underlying disorder. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Insomnia or not feeling well-rested
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable hobbies or topics
- Low libido and/or sexual difficulties
- Muscle and joint pain
- Negative self-talk
- Poor memory
- Significant changes in weight
- Thoughts of suicide
Depression may also be recognized through lingering sensations of:
- Emotional numbness or emptiness
Symptoms and their severity vary from patient to patient. Because of this, it may be difficult to determine if a patient’s troubles are triggered by depression or are simply the result of temporary moodiness. The primary component and perhaps best identifier of depression is duration. When depressed, the melancholy sensations and physical sluggishness it causes remain for an extended period. In some cases, the emotional and physical symptoms can persist for years if the underlying issues are not resolved.
If you have experienced some of symptoms listed above for a period of two weeks or more it is likely that you are suffering from depression. If this is the case, seek the assistance of a medical professional as soon as possible.
Getting the Help You Need
Depression is a common issue affecting more than 19 million Americans and 350 million globally. Identifying depression is the first step towards resolving it. But doing so requires that we are able to properly recognize the signs and symptoms of it in ourselves and others. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, seek the aid of your primary care physician. At the very least they will be able to help you find someone who can provide greater care and is better equipped to treat your condition. Most cases of depression are curable. However, it is our responsible to recognize the signs and get the care we need.
1. University of New Mexico Counseling Assistance and Referral Services. “Coping with the Blues.”
2. University of Michigan. “Depressive Disorders.”
3. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. “Major Depression.”
4. University of Michigan Depression Center. “Major Depressive Disorder.”