Depression is a mental illness whereby a person experiences an all time low in moods, energy and spirit. One constantly feels stressed and sad. This affects them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. A depressed individual is unable to control these dampening moods and it impacts their day to day life.
Activities that come easy and naturally for normal individuals are quite a struggle for depressed people. These include; eating, sleeping, working, socializing, making decisions and even parenting. A depressed person hardly has anything positive to say about themselves and their lives. They are convinced that all that pertains to them is a bother. Some also begin seeing their family and friends as the triggers to their depression hence cut them off.
Depression, just like any other disease requires medical attention. The longer it is left untreated, the more intense it becomes. In this case, the symptoms can be prolonged to weeks, months and even years. The longer it goes on the severe these symptoms becomes.
In some cases, untreated depression can pose the patient’s life at risk. Understanding depression is the first step towards healing.
Symptoms of Depression
It is important to understand that the symptoms of depression vary from one person to another. While some experience almost all symptoms, others experience just a few.
1. Sadness/ anxiety/ emptiness
This is a common symptom that characterizes depression. The person starts to withdraw and opts to seclude themselves. A once jovial person becomes introverted and does everything within their means to push people away.
Sadness becomes evident in their lives and they become convinced that their lives have no meaning.
A depressed individual is unable to function normally. Activities that come naturally for others are a struggle to them. In this case, a patient may spend most part of their days awake hence insomnia.
3. Decreased Energy/ Fatigue
A depressed person is always tired. This may be a result of insomnia as well as inability of the brain to function as it should. A depressed person may seem to be always in deep thought which wears the brain out. The fact that they’re absent minded and disinterested in activities may explain their sluggish nature.
4. Weight Loss or Obesity
Different people handle stress and depression differently. While some will experience weight loss, others actually gain weight. Some starve themselves while others ‘eat’ their feelings.
5. Feelings of Hopelessness
Normally, a person will seek guidance and counseling whenever they’re stressed. On the other hand, a depressed person may not readily seek help. They feel as if they are beyond help and no one could truly rescue them. They may also easily give up on things that they would previously fight for, attention, love, promotions, sales.
6. Suicidal Thoughts
Once a depressed person begins to give up on themselves, suicide is considered and option. They believe that it would be better for everyone if they died. The burden would be lighter they no longer existed.
7. Difficulty Concentrating
A depression patient is unable to focus on something long enough. This may lead to termination at work, poor grades at school and even poor parenting. They tend to space out frequently and slip into a world of their own.
8. Restlessness/Irritability/ crying
You may notice that depressed people fidget a lot. They are unable to focus on something long enough hence hoping from one activity to another after a short while. They are also irritable when forced to focus or do what they don’t want.
9. Chronic Aches
In most cases, a depressed person will complain of aches and illnesses that really can’t be medically detected/diagnosed. These are believed to be tricks of the mind which actually materialise into phantom symptoms. As the patient heals, the aches gradually disappear.
Depression, just like any other illness requires medical intervention. The sooner the treatment begins, the higher the chances of healing. With the help of a counsellor, a patient is able to solve the underlying problems, open up all the bottled feelings, speak their mind and purpose to take one step at a time towards healing.
A qualified counsellor is able to work on each individual and walk with them towards healing. Sometimes, family and friends are invited into the healing process which assures the patient that they are indeed loved, wanted and cared for. Once they begin to see their worth, the symptoms reduce and healing starts.