These days it’s everywhere – the D word. Our social media feeds and news bulletins regularly discuss depression. Headlines shout out about another celebrity’s battle with depression. Every few weeks new research highlights concerning statistics about depression.
This new willingness to talk about depression both privately and in the public sphere is positive. Shining a light on the problem is a vital step to finding solutions. But, sometimes, it can be hard to identify the difference between going through a tough patch and suffering from clinical depression where help is needed.
Depression affects us all differently. However, most health care professionals agree that depression is about persistently feeling down or uninterested in things you’d normally enjoy over a period of weeks or months.
If you or a friend or relative have been experiencing a number of the signs and symptoms below, and these have lasted two weeks or more, it’s probably time to talk to someone.
Having the sense that there’s no point in anything is one of the most common signs of depression. Feeling negative about everything or that there are no solutions to your problems are key symptoms of depression.
Blaming yourself for your problems or being over self-critical are frequent aspects of depression. You may go over and over scenarios in your head, finding fault with yourself and exaggerating any of your weaknesses.
Depression is often accompanied by anxiety – you may constantly worry about the future or things that happened in the past. Anxiety can translate into nervousness, tenseness or a feeling of dread.
Situations you normally cope with may seem overwhelming. You may feel incapable of carrying out everyday tasks or dealing with social situations.
You may feel easily annoyed and intolerant of others. Small things that don’t go right may particularly annoy you.
It’s common to feel worthless or useless when you’re depressed. You may have trouble remembering anything that you’re good at.
You may feel tearful and sad all the time. This is different from feeling sad about specific things; for example, grief in bereavement.
Feeling alone or isolated or unable to connect with other people is a key feature of depression. You may worry that no one really likes you or that you have nothing to contribute to other people.
There are many other feelings you may experience when you’re depressed. Some people experience uncontrolled emotions, with swings between anger, sadness and frustration. Other people report having no feelings, a feeling of numbness.
You could feel exhausted all the time. You may struggle to do basic tasks. You may feel constantly run down.
It’s common to have trouble sleeping and to lie awake worrying about things. Other people find they sleep far more than normal and have trouble waking up.
Changes in weight
You may gain a lot of weight suddenly or, alternatively, lose weight suddenly. If you haven’t set out to lose or gain weight, it’s worth investigating whether depression is the cause.
Rapid heart rate, increased sweating and trembling or muscle twitching could be signs of anxiety associated with depression. Your stomach may also be upset. You could have trouble focusing or thinking clearly.
Reduced sex drive
A lower than normal interest in sex can be a sign of depression.
Depressed thinking focuses on what might go wrong, negative experiences of the past and self-criticism.
- “I’m a failure.”
- “It’s all my fault.”
- “I’m worthless.”
- “Life’s not worth living.”
- “Nothing good ever happens to me.”
- “People will be better off without me.”
The following might indicate depression:
- Not going out anymore.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Giving up hobbies.
- Staying in bed longer.
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs.
If you or a loved one have been suffering from any of these signs for two weeks or more, it’s time to get help. The good news is that there are more and more successful ways of treating depression. Start by talking to someone – your doctor or a counsellor.
How severe is it?
Mild depression has some impact on your daily life.
Moderate depression has a significant impact on your daily life.
Severe depression makes it almost impossible to get through daily life.
Where to get help
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider.
However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757