“The root of depression is a feeling of hopelessness”
"I hide my depression with an I’m fine”
“Broken Crayons Still Color"
The feeling of sadness and depression are emotions that are a normal part of life, so how does a person know if they need professional help? The answer to this question is different and unique for every individual. For some, the feeling of being depressed might have been present since childhood, and the person may not even know of any other feeling besides being depressed. For others, it may be related to a significant change in a person’s well being whether it’s related to problems with their social life, occupation or a change in their personality, sleep and habits.
Regardless of the origin of a person’s depression, the perspective of a professional may be helpful. Seeing a psychiatrist or therapist may be necessary and beneficial in helping to establish the presence or absence of clinical depression.
With depression, there are associated characteristics, that can help establish the severity of a persons depression. A professional can help determine the presence and/or absence of certain signs and symptoms along with the significance of each, that may be related to depression.
With all depression, there are certain symptoms that occur most commonly, and a person with depression will likely have at least 5 of the following:
Depressed mood most of the day
Diminished interest or pleasure in activities
Weight gain/loss (not related to dieting) or decreased/increased appetite
Sleep changes: increased or decreased
Psychomotor agitation/retardation: An increase or decrease in a persons thoughts or movements that is observed by others
Loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Loss of Concentration
Suicide related thoughts or actions
People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual. Other common signs and symptoms include:
Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
A person who suffers from depression is not alone. Each year about 22 million U.S adults experience major depression. Depression in not always an isolated event, and is commonly associated with anxiety, PTSD, medical illnesses, and alcohol and drug abuse.
Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated in several ways. The most common and proven treatments are with medication and psychotherapy.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). American Psychiatric Association. 2013