We all get sad or down from time to time, but does that mean you are suffering from depression?
Depression – beyond being sad or having a bad day – is an intense feeling of sadness that lasts for a prolonged period. It can last days, weeks, months or even years. Left unmanaged, depression can start to interfere with your day-to-day life, your wellbeing and your physical health.
What other signs should you look out for? Not doing the activities you would normally really enjoy doing is a common sign. So too is avoiding seeing your friends. You may even notice a change in your appetite and have trouble sleeping. Poor concentration, difficulty making decisions, and being overly self-critical may be further symptoms.
Why am I depressed?
Some people have a good grasp of what makes them depressed. For others, there is no immediately apparent cause. Typically, there is more than one underlying reason. Common factors may include:
- A family history of depression may mean you are more likely to develop it.
- A medical condition or a chronic illness can contribute to depression through stress and worry.
- A stressful event can trigger depression. For example, a family or relationship breakup, job loss and financial pressure, bullying, trauma, and the death of a friend or loved.
- People who tend to worry a lot, are self-critical and have negative thoughts are at risk.
Symptoms of depression
People experience depression in different ways. Common symptoms may include the following.
- Feeling sad, moody or irritable
- Feeling hopeless or helpless
- Feeling numb or empty
- Feeling guilty and blaming yourself
- Unable to feel good or enjoy things that you normally do.
- Being overly self-critical
- Believing you can’t cope and that things are out of your control
- Difficulty making decisions and thinking clearly
- Poor concentration and memory
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
- Lack of motivation and energy
- Crying a lot
- Losing interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Withdrawing from your friends and family or being more dependent on them
- Increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- Losing your temper more than usual.
- Loss of appetite or over-eating
- Changes in sleep patterns – difficulty getting to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night or sleeping for longer
- Headaches or stomach aches
- Feeling physically sick
- Lack of interest in sex.
Everyone experiences some of these feelings or behaviours from time to time. However, for people experiencing depression, the feelings are severe, and they do not go away over time.
Whatever the cause, remember that depression can be treated. If your mood has been low for over two weeks, you can seek help.
Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online social and mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.