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Depression Hurts: Symptoms and
Like happiness, times of sadness are inevitable. When we lose a loved one, experience disappointment, or become discouraged, it is normal to feel sad. Midlife also offers a season of “blue” feelings, as children leave home to begin lives of their own, and age begins to affect our body.
But when sadness lingers for long periods of time and colors the world drab, when fatigue zaps energy and emotional enthusiasm wanes, and when feelings of melancholy rob the quality of life . . . that is depression.
Depression hurts; not only the sufferer, but family and close friends as well. In fact, depression can drastically affect a person’s life and health in very negative ways.
“Clinical Depression” is defined as depression that lasts for weeks, months, or even years at a time. Symptoms vary from person to person, and can be mild, moderate, or severe. But the biggest difference between an “ordinary” episode of sadness and Clinical Depression is that in Clinical Depression, symptoms are present most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of at least two weeks.
Depression can negatively affect suffers in a variety of ways. Sleep, appetite, intimacy, and energy can all be affected. Relationships with family and friends can suffer. The ability to think, concentrate, and function is crippled. Hope and enjoyment of every day life can escape the sufferer as interest in daily activities diminishes, and the will to survive seems unimportant.
Not everyone will experience the same group of symptoms, or any individual symptom to the same extent. However, the more symptoms the person experiences, the greater the odds are that they have Clinical Depression.
Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms of Clinical Depression.
Ongoing feelings of sadness that lasts for weeks: The person may not even be able to talk about their feelings of sadness, or explain “why” they feel that way. But family and friends can easily tell something is wrong. The person looks and behaves downcast; something is bothering them, something is making them sad.
Persons who become sad or upset when they experience something significant such as the loss of a job, relationship or money difficulties, or another problem are behaving normally. Their outlook on life and attitude improves in time, or when the situation that first upset them improves. This is not Clinical Depression.
For sufferers of Clinical Depression, the sadness seems to have come from nowhere, and without warning. Things may be going well in their present day to day life, but they become increasingly “swallowed up” by feelings of melancholy and sadness. They may be confused about their sadness, but feel helpless to change how they feel.
Feelings of emptiness take root: When asked, the person may say they feel “nothing,” as opposed to feeling sad or “blue.” There is a deep emptiness or numbness inside. They may feel as though they are going through life in slow motion. They may respond exactly the same to good or bad news. They feel hollow inside; going through the motions of living without enthusiasm.
A loss of interest in things once enjoyable: Persons who suffer from Clinical Depression lose interest in hobbies and activities they once enjoyed. In fact, they seem to have lost their ability to experience any enjoyment. Intimacy suffers; some persons lose all desire for .
The ability to concentrate, remember, or make decisions becomes increasingly difficult: One of the first signs that the person is having difficulty thinking or retaining thoughts is a problem with listening, and reading. Work becomes difficult, or even impossible. Remembering important things becomes increasingly hard. Relationships suffer as the person begins to isolate himself from others.
Difficulty sleeping: Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep is a common problem for persons suffering from Clinical Depression. Many people say they lie awake in bed for hours at a time, eyes wide open, unable to sleep. Once they do manage to fall asleep, they toss and turn, and wake up after only a few hours. The resulting fatigue caused from sleeplessness further compounds the problem.
Other persons suffering from Clinical Depression experience the opposite problem. They sleep continually. Even after adequate sleep, they find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, or to stay awake during the day. Yet, they never feel rested, and want more and more sleep.
Loss of motivation: Clinical Depression is exhausting. It robs energy and motivation. Fatigue is intense and can be disabling. Many times, the person’s appearance suffers. In fact, though normally particular about how they dress, they may dress in wrinkled clothes that are dirty and mismatched. When asked why, they may say they are just too tired to care how they look.
Appetite and eating habits change: Many times a person with Clinical Depression will lose large amounts of weight, because they no longer care about food. They have no appetite, and the taste of food is no longer satisfying. Their clothes may hang limply on them. Although loss of appetite is the more common of the two, other persons go on eating binges and gain a lot of weight. They can’t seem to get control over their eating habits, and snack constantly.
Lack of self-esteem: As the depression continues, many sufferers begin to feel worthless. They may feel their life has no real value. Some persons experience deep guilt for things beyond their control. Even the fact that they are depressed can cause some persons to feel guilty, which in turn makes them feel even more depressed. When family and friends attempt to console them, the negative feelings persist.
Physical symptoms manifest: Surprisingly, some of the most prominent symptoms of Clinical Depression are complaints of physical discomforts such as aches, pains, and digestive disorders. The sufferer may begin to attribute their depression to a medical problem, but an examination will often turn up no reason for the pain and discomfort.
Depression can weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off disease, and can heighten the risk of heart and other diseases. In fact, one Finnish study revealed that when all other risk factors were equal, depressed men had two to four times greater risk of plaque buildup in their arteries than men who were not depressed.
Thoughts of imminent or As the depression continues, thoughts of and take root. The person feels that their life will never get better, and that it might be better if they didn’t exist. Sometimes these feelings become so strong, the person makes plans to .
Abnormal thoughts: Persons with severe Clinical Depression may experience episodes that both confuse and scare them. They may hear imaginary voices. They may obsess with hypochondria, paranoia, or other such manifestations.
A change in physical activity: Daily tasks are an effort and take longer to complete. Feelings of restlessness or listlessness may persist. Some sufferers experience zombie-like “trances,” while others feel anxious or nervous and are unable to relax and sit still.
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