Unless a person has actually experienced clinical depression, it can be difficult to imagine how the condition affects daily living. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, depression has a list of specific symptoms that include:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
- Hopelessness and pessimism
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches, pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems which are treatment resistant
- Persistent sad, anxious or empty feelings
- Suicidal thoughts
Psychology Today writer Faith Brynie, Ph.D., notes loss of interest as a primary indicator of depression. Those experiencing feelings of depression may leave housework undone, dishes unwashed and laundry dirty. Everyday tasks such as taking care of car registration, returning a library book or shopping for a birthday present for a friend are neglected and there has been no laughter for a long time. There is the overwhelming feeling that job responsibilities are just too much even though nothing has changed at work and sometimes just showing up there seems impossible.
According to the article “The Link Between Depression and Physical Symptoms” featured in The Primary Care Companion of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, depression can affect physical health as well as emotional health. Fatigue is a primary indicator of depression. When friends call with invitations to social occasions, those with depression are turned down and told “I’m just too tired. A large part of this person’s day may be spent sleeping, causing sleep cycles to turn haywire. Those coping with depression symptoms may also experience memory loss, leading to misplacement of items and disorganization.
Self-care may fall to the wayside as a result of depression, leading to poor hygiene and weight gain or loss. A person may wear the same clothing for several consecutive days because it requires an effort to choose new ones. Food holds no temptation and for some depressed people it may be the opposite, eating constantly to fill up that vacant feeling.
For those with depression or for those with loved ones dealing with depression, this disease can prove crippling on many levels. Luckily, help is available. If you or a family member express symptoms of depression, trained clinicians can provide modalities of therapy to alleviate the condition for a happier and healthier life. For more information on depression treatment, please call the Florida Depression Helpline.