Depression is a major disorder that is thought to affect approximately 1 in every 10 people within the United Kingdom at some point in their life. Despite this, people are rarely able to spot the signs of depression in themselves or those around them.
In this article we will look at what depression is and how to spot the signs of depression early.
What is depression?
When people are feeling low, they can often feel like they are suffering from depression, however it is normal for everyone to experience feeling unhappy and down in their life. There are major differences between someone who’s mood is low and someone that has clinical depression.
Many people that are going through a period of low mood often feel that they have depression, however they are simply experiencing a period of low mood. This will often resolve itself with help from others or without help.
However, when someone is depressed sometimes, they don’t realise it and just think that they are experiencing sadness and that they will ‘get over it’ in time. Undiagnosed depression such as this can have severe effects on someone’s ability to live a normal life. It is therefore important that for anyone feeling that their mood is having an effect on their life seeks professional advice, so they can be supported if they do have depression.
When a person is feeling low
When someone is feeling low, they will be feeling sad for a short period of time but they can see hope in their future. They will also come to terms with what is causing their low mood. But when someone is depressed, it will continue for weeks or months and they can see no hope for their future.
When someone is feeling low, they will seek help to overcome the problem, as they only see it as a short-term issue, however when someone is depressed, they may be reluctant to seek help. They have hopelessness for their situation, they feel that there is no point and that they will never feel better.
When someone has a low mood they are often aware of the cause of their low mood, or they can guess what has caused them to feel like this. When someone is depressed, they often don’t know what is causing them to feel like this. As depression can arise with no identifiable cause, this can make the person find it harder to deal with.
Physical changes can occur when someone is depressed, their sleep can be disrupted, they can gain or loose weight and be more susceptible to minor illnesses like colds. However, someone experiencing low mood usually won’t have any physical changes.
People who are depressed are often likely to self-harm, whereas someone that is experiencing low mood won’t usually have thoughts of self-harm. People who are depressed are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts too.
Psychotic depression feelings
Psychotic depression is a type of major depression which is different from a normal experience of depression. When someone is diagnosed with psychotic depression, they are likely to experience visual and auditory hallucinations. They can also experience delusions, where they have intense feelings, often these are that they are worthless or are being punished because they have done something wrong.
They are often out of touch with reality however the thoughts they are having feel very real. Some people can convince themselves that they are possessed by the devil, that they have committed a terrible crime or that the police are coming looking for them.
Often people experiencing psychotic depression neglect their personal hygiene. This is because they spend most of their day in bed or sit in the same position within their house. They also may change their sleep routine and sleep throughout the day and stay awake all night.
People often try hide their depression because they feel embarrassed, ashamed or they get scared of being judged. People are scared that they will be sectioned under the mental health act, where they would be hospitalised and treated against their will. This can put people off talking about their problems and it can make their condition difficult to diagnose.
Often episodes of psychotic depression reoccur when treatment hasn’t been sought and when it hasn’t been diagnosed it can mean that the individual’s chance of developing bipolar increases.
Sadly, those that have psychotic depression are more likely to attempt suicide.
Symptoms of depression
Depression can cause a person to feel overwhelmed with their feelings and cause the persons depression to worsen. There are different symptoms that you can look out for in a person that might be depressed. These symptoms can help you see if you need to help someone in getting professional help.
- Constantly tearful
- Being guilt-ridden
- Being irritable and having a low tolerance of other people
- Finding no joy in anything, especially things that they used to love
- Unable to make decisions
- Low self-esteem
- Constantly feeling sad
- Feeling aggressive or angry
- Isolating themselves
- Change in menstrual cycle for women
- Loss of libido.
Depression can also affect the friends and families of sufferers. When a person is so depressed that they cannot function properly, it means that they rely on others more, especially for caring duties. These can fall on the children, if there is no partner or family close by.
How daily life can contribute towards depression
Daily life demands can negatively affect a person’s well-being and sometimes they may not realise it right away. Sometimes it can be after a life event that the person notices they have depression or they may not realise at all. When this happens it is often someone else that has to tell them that they need to get help.
- Suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – this comes and goes in seasonal patterns, it is more apparent during the winter. People can feel that their mood and energy levels are lower in the months where there is less sunlight hours.
- Being bereaved – grief can cause a person to suffer from depression, as grief and depression can present themselves in similar ways. Someone may mistakenly believe that they are still grieving when actually they are experiencing depression.
- Difficult relationships – if someone lives with an abusive or controlling partner that makes decisions for them, this can cause the person to lack confidence and self-esteem which can lead to anxiety and depression.
- Going through a divorce – this is similar to a bereavement as someone is losing someone from their life Although they know that person is still well and alive, they have to grieve for the person that they loved and spent a good amount of their life with.
- Short and long-term stress – stress can cause a person to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. Being stressed can cause a person to release less ‘feel good’ hormones and these can cause the symptoms of depression.
- Financial issues – can lead someone to be stressed, which can cause the person to become depressed.
- Physical illness – when someone has a physical illness which means that they have to spend a lot of time in doors, can make someone feel isolated.
- Unemployment – not having a job can make depression worse as a person can feel useless with no structure to their day.
- Hormone fluctuations – can reduce certain brain chemicals, that can lower a person’s mood and increase the stress related hormones.