Signs And Symptoms of Depression

Until recently we did not know a great deal about depression and many doctors thought the sadness and confused group of signs and symptoms we call “depression” were simply a product of hidden conflicts and stress in a person’s life. We know now that depression is caused by a deficiency of several chemicals that act as messengers in the nervous system. The immediate trigger for the deficiency may be as dramatic as grief for a major loss, or a meaningless combination of trivial events associated with a minor accident.

Depression and anxiety, fear, loss of nerve and purpose, malaise, phobia, panic, and obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior may not feel exactly alike. But these symptoms are all biochemically related.

What Does Depression Feel Like? Here are some of the major signs and symptoms of depression

Tired, fatigued, exhausted.

Most depressed people say something like “I go to bed exhausted and I wake up tired. Sleep doesn’t rest me anymore.”

Morning malaise.

Depressed people often say “I am allergic to morning.” “I’m just not a morning person.” They often report that it takes a long time and lots of coffee to get going. Morning is seldom a good time of day for depressed people. “I get a hangover without even earning it.”

No joy, no purpose, workaholism, anhedonia (no pleasure).

Many depressed people just don’t feel like doing anything; they have no enthusiasm for life and don’t care to do things they used to enjoy. Work is a pain. On the other hand, work may be the only place they can disappear and they are workaholics with few pleasures. They are not the kind of workaholics who love their work, they just work, work, work.

Irritability and Anger.

Irritability becomes a way of life for some depressed people, especially men. They often depress others. Frequent and irrational outbursts of temper or rage, upsets over every little thing are common.

Sadness, crying spells.

Many depressed people are sad for no good reason or they continue grieving well past the time most people have recovered from a loss. Extended grief, even when it was reasonable, may have provoked a biochemical imbalance that leads to disease. Depressed people often feel like crying for no reason at all.

Guilt and worthlessness.

Feeling unwanted, sinful, guilty, worthless, as if life is not worth living, so weary of it all the cemetery seems a peaceful alternative. These may be the most serious symptoms of depression and often provoke other bad feelings.

Anomie, aloneness.

Many depressed men insist they are not sad but they don’t seem to feel love, tenderness. They seem to have no appropriate family feelings. They are cold but not bitter, just blah. This is particularly true of men who may not admit they feel worthless or guilty or sad, but whose quality of family or personal life is nothing much.

Anxiety, panic, a speeding feeling.

Panic, fear, phobia, anxiety, inner trembling, racing heart, cold hands and feet, excessive sweating, and other physical symptoms are a good indication of biochemical imbalance having replaced whatever transient source the fear or grief may once have had. These feelings are often associated with sleep apnea (stopping breathing at night and waking up in terror or with a start).

Besides Feeling Bad, There Are Other Signs And Symptoms of Depression

No sexual hunger, and no desire for social life.

Sex and happy interactions with attractive people of the opposite sex often have no appeal and sometimes are actively repellant. “Just leave me alone!”

Sleep disturbance.

Many depressed people have a problem with sleep. They often can’t get to sleep, or toss and turn all night, or have bad dreams which awaken them in a state of anxiety, or they awaken very early in the morning. Some sleep much more than others. Many habitually depressed people say they “sleep like death”.

Headache.

A common symptom of depression is a constant dull headache, not severe, just a dull ache or a band of pain around the head or in the back of the neck. Migraine sufferers frequently become depressed and also have a constant dull headache.

Sleep disturbance.

Many depressed people have a problem with sleep. They often can’t get to sleep, or toss and turn all night, or have bad dreams which awaken them in a state of anxiety, or they awaken very early in the morning. Some sleep much more than others. Many habitually depressed people say they “sleep like death”.

Pain and chronic illness.

Chronic pains, hypersensitivity, cranky continuous symptoms. The pain may be anywhere, may be severe, and is very real, not imaginary.

Eating disturbances and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Depressed people often have constipation or diarrhea or other gastrointestinal upsets; changes in appetite and recent weight gain or loss are common. Anorexia and bulimia are almost always accompanied by depression.

Disturbances of attention, orientation, memory, and thinking.

“I can’t concentrate, reading is a chore, I can’t decide, I can’t study, can’t get things done.” “My brain is on strike, I’m in a fog, I just can’t think.” “Brain fag” is frequently reported by depressed people.