The common signs of depression
Feeling a little blue or sad every now and then is not a sign of depression. Feeling overwhelmed or sad occasionally because of an upset or a disappointment is normal. When the feeling of being overwhelmed and sad lasts for a long period of time, and the feelings of hopelessness prevent you from enjoying a normal and happy life, and it prevents you from deriving pleasure from the simple things in life – it may be a sign of depression.
The common signs of depression include:
- Problems concentrating on tasks, unable to remember details and the inability to make decisions;
- Feeling tired and having little energy;
- Battling with constant feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness;
- Strong feelings of gloom and mistrust – a usually optimistic person becomes a pessimist;
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or sleeping longer than usual;
- Feelings of irritability and restlessness;
- A loss of interest in regular activities and hobbies that were once pleasurable, including sex;
- A loss of appetite or overeating;
- Suffering from strange and unexplained aches or pains such as headaches and stomach cramps;
- An ongoing feeling of sadness, anxiety a feeling of emptiness, like nothing in life matters;
- Talking or thinking about suicide, attempting suicide.
If depression is left untreated, the condition will become worse and due to the fact that depression can lead to suicide, it’s critically important that the sufferer seeks the assistance of a trained professional who will provide them with the treatment that they need. The result of depression left untreated is bleak and statistics have shown that more than one out of every 10 people suffering from depression will attempt or commit suicide. These statistics are a clear indication that if you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from depression, immediate medical assistance be sought.
The warning signs of suicide include:
- An almost instant switch from being extremely sad to being strangely calm and even appearing to be happy (almost accepting);
- Becoming obsessed with death – talking about it often or thinking about death;
- Exhibiting the classic signs of clinical depression, such as a deep sadness, loss of interest in usual activities, problems sleeping and eating;
- Showing little or no interest in things that were once cared for, such as pets, plants, hobbies, etc.
- Making comments about feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless;
- Getting affairs in order, like updating a will, etc.
- Making an effort to call or see friends and family members.
The good news is that depression can be beaten and overcome. However, for depression to be beat the sufferer must receive the correct treatment and they need to play an active role in their treatment.
The Depression and Anxiety Support Group of SA
Telephone: (011) 883 8502 / (011) 884 1797
Post Natal Depression Association of South Africa
Telephone: (021) 797 4498
Bipolar and Related Disorders Association
Telephone: (012) 348 6057
Calora Online Community Support
Don’t give up…
Even after receiving treatment, a depressed individual will not automatically feel fine or on top of the world. Depression sufferers need to realise and understand that medication can take some weeks to work and in some cases, medication may not work at all. It may require a number of tries to get the medication balance right, and it will also take time for doctors to get the dosage correct. In addition to medication like antidepressants, doctors may recommend that the sufferer attend counselling sessions or therapy and this will work hand-in-hand with the medication to help the sufferer beat depression and deal with the issues that are causing depression.
Apart from medication and/or therapy the person will also need to make certain lifestyle changes or adjustments that will help them to reduce the stress in their daily lives. A healthy diet that consists of fresh fruit and vegetables that are low in sugars and fats is recommended, and it’s also important for an individual to get adequate rest and a good night’s sleep. Exercise and making time for one’s self (enjoying a hobby, etc.) will prove helpful in lifting one’s spirits. If therapy is part of the healing process, it’s important for the patient to be honest and open about their feelings and fears (no matter how bizarre they may sound). Without honest and meaningful interaction, sessions will be less likely to help and may have little impact in resolving problems.
The journey to recovery is often a long and slow one and although the sufferer will feel helpless and hopeless during the journey, they need to remind themselves that these feelings are a normal part of their condition and that with the proper treatment, these feelings will pass and they will start to feel better about themselves and the future. As a parent, we owe it to our children to seek help for depression and fight the condition.
Facts on depression
There is not always a reason for depression. Some people become depressed for valid reasons, such as they have been retrenched or they have lost a loved one. In cases of clinical depression, there is no real reason as to why they feel the way they feel. With clinical depression, chemicals in the brain that control moods and emotions are thought to become out of balance, and although things are going well in sufferer’s lives, they’re unable to shake the feelings of sadness, hopelessness and helplessness.