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Signs of Depression: Common Symptoms and Effective Treatment Options

20 October, 2017

Depression is a common condition that is estimated to affect 20% of people in their lifetime. It can be a recurring disease that often becomes harder to treat as the number of episodes increases. That’s why it is important to identify signs of depression as early as possible. Research confirms that the earlier depression is identified, the greater the likelihood of treatment success.

The following are common signs and symptoms of depression. However, remember that depression is more than just feeling sad. Sadness is a normal emotion that is often triggered by an upsetting event or thought. However, depression is greater in severity and has more lasting effects.

Signs of depressionEmotional symptoms associated with depression:

  • Sadness or low mood
  • Feeling of numbness or flat affect
  • Disappointment
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Irritability and frustration
  • A lack of self-confidence
  • Stress and tension
  • Reduced ability to feel pleasure
  • Diminished interest in activities

Behavioural signs of depressionBehavioural symptoms or changes associated with depression:

  • Reduced engagement in social activities
  • Increased withdrawal from others
  • Greater time to complete tasks/ greater inefficiency
  • Increased procrastination
  • Reduced engagement activities that were once pleasurable
  • Increased drug and alcohol use
  • Suicidal behaviours
  • Self-harming behaviours such as cutting, hitting, burning, or general risky behaviours
  • Sleep difficulties including problems falling or staying asleep. On the other hand, some people may have an increased desire to sleep.

Thoughts associated with depression:

  • Increased negative thinking
  • Negative thoughts may be related to self, others, general environment, or about the future
  • Increase thoughts about death or suicide
  • Diminished ability to concentrate or stay on task
  • Worsened memory
  • Indecisiveness

Symptoms associated with depressionPhysical symptoms associated with depression:

  • Increased tiredness, fatigue, or lethargy
  • Feeling run down or unwell
  • Increased headaches or general pain
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Appetite changes which can include increased or decreased appetite
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Slowed movement or motor activity, or increased agitation/ restlessness (inability to stay still)
  • Loss of interest or desire in sex. Some people may also experience sexual difficulties, e.g., erection problems, difficulties in achieving orgasm, intercourse pain.

While many of the signs of depression can occur in children in adolescents, it is also common for youth to experience increased aggression or oppositional behaviours, school avoidance, deterioration in academic performance and increased conflict with peers.

To be formally diagnosed with depression, many of these symptoms must be present most days for at least 2-weeks. The symptoms should also have significant effects on occupational, social, or academic functioning.

If you are suffering from many of these symptoms, then you may be suffering from depression. If this is the case, the good news is there are many effective treatments available. This first step is to acknowledge that you are suffering from depression (whether formally or informally diagnosed) and the need to make changes.

Sleeping excessively is a common sigh of depressionThe key is to identify potential causes of your depression. Are there stresses in your life that might be negatively affecting your mood? Are you engaging in lifestyle habits that you need to change? These include poor sleep habits, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, excess technology use, alcohol or other drug use, just to name a few? Do you have ineffective emotional coping skills that might make problems worse? These include avoidance of feelings, withdrawal, excess preoccupation on problems, or an unwillingness to seek support. You also may have several negative thoughts or beliefs that impact on your sense of self and overall mood. These might need changing, and psychological therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) may be helpful. You could also be suffering from medical problems that might affect your mental health. These include a low thyroid function, imbalances in sex hormones, or chronic pain.

If you are suffering from depression, we recommend that you make appropriate changes, and if necessary, seek specialist support. Psychological therapy, medications or nutritional therapy may be useful. There are also several natural herbs and nutrients which have been shown to have a positive effect on mood and general wellbeing. Our favourite is the spice saffron which has been shown in several clinical studies to be an effective and safe natural antidepressant and mood lifter.

If you would like more information about the signs of depression, then please watch the following video:



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