What Does Depression Feel Like?

What-Does-Depression-Feel-Like

Sinking yet floating
Together yet apart

Living a sleep paralysis-
I want to move
But I can’t

I smile

I weep

At the void so deep

Yet, at all the almost I could lose

Damn, my alarm again went on snooze.

I stand behind that yellow line

I wish to be pushed down

Standing there cowardly

This too I leave undone.

Overview of Depression

“Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease”- WHO

We all have our phases of feeling sad or overwhelmed by daily challenges of life including difficult relationships, long working hours and daily struggles. But how to know if we are just sad or depressed? People often look for the depression symptoms and google ‘what is depression’ to understand their situation and match their symptoms.

But, depression is much more severe and more prolonged affecting our daily functioning- like changes in appetite, sleep, energy/lethargy and pervasive feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. It starts affecting work and personal relationships. Sometimes, accompanied by thoughts for suicide.

Symptoms of Depression

People going through depression may have some or many of the following symptoms-

  • Feeling tired/Less Energy
  • Less Eating or Over-eating
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Lack of interest in activities/hobbies that were previously enjoyed
  • Excessive sleeping/Insomnia/Difficulty sleeping/early-morning waking
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of focus/Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Persistent irritability
  • digestive problems, frequent headaches/aches with no relief from medications

So we see that there is no ONE template or criteria for depression symptoms that apply to ALL people suffering from this mental illness. Few can experience 2-3 of them and some can experience the majority of the symptoms stated above.

To be clinically diagnosed, the presence of some of them is necessary for atleast 2 weeks.

Types of Depression-

  • Dysthymia– Some symptoms of depression may be present for at least 2 years, with major episodes of depression
  • Major Depressive Disorder– Person experiencing some of the symptoms at least every other day for 2 weeks.
  • Bipolar Disorder– A person suffering from Bipolar experiences symptoms similar to Major Depressive Disorder, at the same time has a mania phase- characterised by extreme highs, excitement, and energy.
  • Postpartum depression– Women experience major depressive symptoms also known as postpartum depression during and after their babies are born. This disables them to even take care of themselves during the period
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder– Seasonal Affective Disorder is when we have depressive symptoms during specific times of the year such as the winter, summer or monsoons. With the onset of winters, some people experience low moods characterized by low energy, weight loss, reduced sleep. The symptoms fade out with the arrival of spring. While sometimes depression can occur when summer comes around.

Causes of Depression

There are three risk factors associated with depression-

  • Family/Personal history of depression
  • Presence of chronic illnesses or medications
  • Major life change, stress or trauma

Therefore, depression can be a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors.

A major life change (Divorce) and trauma (Grief, or Breakup)  may not affect two people in the same way due to their differences in biological predisposition and coping mechanisms.

It can affect any age-group, starting from young adolescent to old age.

Myths About Depression

Depression is more than simply feeling sad, guilty, or a feeling of blue once in a while. Being depressed can make you feel vulnerable. But you’re definitely not. Depression can have an impact on one’s day to day activities, emotions, thoughts and one’s health. It can have an impact on one’s family life, social life and work life.

That said, depression is also not an indication of weakness or a deficiency. Just like any physical health problem, depression is treatable with a high rate of success. Antidepressants are one of the way to deal with treating symptoms of significant depressions and myths about depression also needs to be addressed at the same time.

Depression Treatment

Medication

Medication becomes necessary since Clinical Depression involves bio-chemical changes that contribute/reinforces emotions and thoughts. It needs to be taken under the close supervision of a medical professional and high monitoring is needed.

Psychotherapy/ Therapy for Depression

Therapy or counselling has been found to be effective in management and treatment of depression depending upon the severity of its symptoms. A variety of therapies can be adopted for the healing process to reach the desired results.

Psychotherapy in cases of clinical depression helps a person give a safe space to talk about their difficult thoughts and feelings. A therapist can help break the pattern of thoughts and modify their self-defeating beliefs and values. You can go for depression counselling for better results.

Things you can do to feel better

  • Be physically active and exercise
  • Get Social Support
  • Acknowledge your small efforts to combat depression
  • Be kind to yourself, as you would be to your younger self
  • Break your tasks into smaller goals, and try accomplishing them

Read – When counseling for depression is necessary?

Depression is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you were trying to be strong for too long

-Sigmund Freud

Reference- https://www.nimh.nih.gov/

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