Define Depression : Inside a Depressed Mind
More than just melancholy or sadness, major depressive disorder (commonly known as clinical depression) is a diagnosable psychiatric condition that affects each person differently. However, it’s important and useful to know the most common signs and symptoms of depression; in fact, that’s the first step in combating depression: defining what it means to be clinically depressed in the first place. Being mindful of the signs and symptoms of clinical depression can help you better understand what you’re experiencing. It also gives you the ability to report your symptoms to your health-care professional so that they are better able to help you. If your therapist or doctor understands what you’re feeling or experiencing when you’re showing symptoms of depression, they will be better equipped to help you begin the healing process. Let’s take a look.
Inside a Depressed Mind
When you hear the term clinical depression, you might think of a person who has some of the symptoms listed here—and perhaps that person is you. Do any of these nine symptoms sound or feel familiar?
- 1.Depressed mood most of the day
- 2.A pronounced decreased interest in or pleasure from all or almost all activities
- 3.Significant weight loss (when not dieting), weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite
- 4.Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- 5.Difficulty paying attention and/or concentrating, often experienced as “brain fog” (i.e., trouble remembering things)
- 6.Recurrent thoughts of death and/or suicide
- 7.Excessive feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
- 8.Feeling restless (e.g., leg-shaking, fidgeting, hand-wringing, pacing) or slowed down (e.g., slowed speech, slowed walking) in ways that are noticeable to others
- 9.Lack of energy and/or feelings of fatigue each day (e.g., difficulty performing small tasks such as showering or eating)
These are the symptoms of clinical depression as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: 5th Edition (DSM-5), a comprehensive resource used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental disorders. Go back and place a check mark beside any symptom you are experiencing. If you have experienced five or more of these symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for two weeks or more, it is likely you are living with clinical depression. If so, you know how physically and emotionally tiring it can be. So do I, Sarah; I’ve experienced it. Here’s a snapshot of me dealing with depression before I got help:
I didn’t want to leave my house because getting out of bed, showering, and going outside seemed like too much effort. I isolated myself from my friends, convinced that they found me burdensome, annoying, and tiresome to be around. I found myself ruminating over negative thoughts and ideas of low self-worth. I had difficulty remembering things, and I found little comfort in activities I loved, such as writing, playing with my dog and cats, and singing. On top of that, my appetite was almost nonexistent, and I had to force myself to eat.
Does this sound familiar? Can you relate to my psychological state? I was coping with clinical depression. In this scenario, I had forgotten the things that previously gave me enjoyment in life. Due to my inability to take pleasure in things, I lacked the motivation to get going and engage in my normal everyday activities. I couldn’t reach out to friends or a support system. This only made matters worse, because isolation can exacerbate the symptoms of depression.
When you are experiencing depression, try to remember that you are not alone. There are other people out there who are also challenged by an inability to perform even the smallest tasks due to depression. It can feel frustrating when, on some level, you truly do want to be with your friends, go out, and have a good time or engage in a hobby you once took pleasure in, but remember: You are experiencing a real medical disorder that is making it difficult for you to function . . . at the moment. And that’s the thing: While depression may be something you are experiencing in this moment, it can be overcome when you take certain steps to feel better.