Signs of Depression

If you are experiencing, or have experienced, depression, you are not alone.  According to done study, around 5% of Americans experience serious depression every year.  Such statistics are notoriously unreliable, however. Depressed people often grit their teeth and struggle through, telling no one and waiting for it to pass.  Others have no idea what is wrong and blank it out with alcohol or drugs.  It would therefore be safe to assume that the true figure is much higher.

And yet, common as it may be, certain myths stubbornly persist.  Depression has nothing to do with cowardice, weakness, or self-pity, for example.  On the contrary, the depressed often show immense courage.  Those fortunate never to have endured it urge friends to 'pull yourself together."  Of course, what they often mean is "I'd never get like that-I'm far too tought and strong and brave."  But depression is very differendt to being unhappy or feeling blue.  True depression is a crippling illness that, in extreme cases, can lead to psychological breakdown and even suicide.

First, it must be said that depression manifests in different ways.  Some experience the classic low, flat mood.  But in others, depression combines with anxiety to create a restless, agitated state in which they feel a sense of impending doom.  Some literally cannot get out of bed, while others cannot sit still or stop talking.  Some just want to be left alone, others desperately need company and support.

Initially, people lose interest in things they love.  And this is where depression differs from low mood.  When you feel low, you can usually cheer your self up by watching a favorite movie or listening to a favorite song.  When depressed, such things merely irritate.  Imagine you wake up one morning and stand in front of something you adore.  Let's say, for example, that you have a Harley-Davidson motorbike.  You bought it in a dilapidated state and have spent the last six months restoring it.  For weeks it has brought you immense pleasure to paint and refit it.  But this morning you feel nothing.  It brings you no pleasure, no thrill, no buzz-that is depression.  Everything you look a or think about makes you want to cry or fills you with terror or disgust.  It is as though you are wearing thick, dark glasses and now everythinkg you look at is black.

Other commom symptoms include a loss of evergy or motivation.  Even getting out of your chair and walking across the room demands an immense concentration of will.  Depression also influences the content of your thoughts.  Depressed people think obsessively about death: even the most trivial things will remind them of it, from closed curtains to meat in butcher's window.  Sleep patterns will usually be interrupted, becoming either shallow and restless or deep and prolonged. Sex drive usually disappears as well, as does appetite, concentration, and self-esteem.  And, though peopld often feel pessimistic about the future, they find it impossible to motivate themselves to take action.  In any case, they may consider their own life so worthless there is no point in trying to make things better.

By Mark Goodard