Depression: what is it? Do you know someone who needs help?

mental health and the workplace

Depression is not easy to sum up in just one sentence. You may have ten people in a room for a depression support group. If you asked each person what it was, you would wind up with ten different answers. The one aspect of this mental illness that is true for everybody is that it exists on a continuum – mild to severe.

Major Depression

Everybody at some time feels down in the dumps. You might get blue after some situation occurs in your life.  That is not true depression. An episode of depression is sustained.  The core features are a depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. Major (unipolar or clinical) depression has several unpleasant symptoms. Below is a list.

Depression Symptoms

  • Depressive thinking – negative, depressive thoughts swirl around in their minds all the time.  This affects every part of their lives.
  • Reductions in frustration tolerance – the littlest things set them off whereas they used to look the other way.
  • Sleep disturbances – this could range from having difficulty falling asleep and middle of the night arousals to waking up earlier and earlier.  Some people will do the opposite and sleep more because of the constant fatigue.
  • Difficulties paying attention and concentrating -easily distracted and everyday tasks become more and more difficult.
  • Diminished sense of personal worth, self-doubts, and indecisiveness
  • Loss of ambition and enthusiasm – they lose interest in goals they want to accomplish.  Takes too much energy.
  • Loss of sexual desire – sex and other pleasures will decrease.  This is called anhedonia.
  • Sluggish movements – people often slow down dramatically.  Even to the point of one or two-word sentences.
  • Fatigue – energy is usually decreased.  The feel run down, drained and tired.
  • Suicidal thoughts – sometimes people who are hurting psychologically will feel the only way out is suicide.  Be sure to look for audible signs as well as physical ones, too.

A professional standard to qualify for this mental illness is to experience these symptoms for at least two weeks.

How Depression can Start

It can follow a normal bereavement, a catastrophic loss, or any condition you may perceive as traumatic. After a pattern of worry leading to general anxiety, this dark shroud can smother you. Negative self-talk that produces negative emotions can set the stage for depression and aggravate an already depressed mood.

When you need a diagnosis for depression, consult a professional.

Here are some links to learn more about depression.