People throw words around like “depressed” and “depression” so much that it has become hard for many to appreciate depression as a very genuine and horrifying mental health issue known as major depressive disorder. It even gets to the point where people may be afraid to get help. Imagine trying to get depression treatment in Melbourne only to be met with doubt and scorn everywhere you turned.
To overcome the ignorance and stigma, it’s critical that people everywhere become more aware of the very real symptoms of depression and how to spot it. Very often depression takes hold in people who outwardly appear very happy-go-lucky and carefree. Here are some of the many symptoms to look out for.
Symptom 1: A Persistent Low Mood
The first symptom is perhaps the clearest indication of real depression, but is sometimes clouded by apparent bouts of happiness (mania) that people experience, especially when in the company of others. Sometimes the most depressed person in a group of friends is the one telling all the jokes. If there is a consistently low mood in a person and that’s the dominant feature of their emotional landscape, then it’s the first of many possible symptoms of major depressive disorder.
Symptom 2: Feeling Worthless
When someone is struggling to express or even understand their own value in the world, it’s another big red depression flag. Self-esteem takes a sucker punch and the sufferer starts to feel unworthy and inadequate in most areas in their lives, from their personal relationships to their jobs. The even sadder thing is that these feelings can be mistaken for self-pity or even incompetence, receiving negative reactions from romantic partners, colleagues and bosses. It’s at this point that it can develop into a vicious cycle that fuels the depression even more.
Symptom 3: Loss of Interest in Hobbies
Have you noticed yourself or any of your friends suddenly having no interest in doing the things they once loved? Has the organiser or paintball weekends become the one who always says no to going to paintball? Has the coordinator of dinners and parties become the recluse who wants to “just stay at home and chill.” These are warning signs of something greater going on in that person’s mental state.
Very often this lack of interest has at its root a drop in energy levels, which is the main reason they are no longer engaging in their previous hobbies. We all know that any hobby takes energy, even if it’s something sedentary like computer gaming. You still have to have the energy to boot up, log in, go through the sometimes tedious early stages of gaming before it starts to get exciting. That takes mental energy and commitment.
Symptom 4: Loss of Concentration
That same loss of energy can also manifest as an inability to focus on work and other activities. Depression can take such a hold that it dominates a person’s mental space and doesn’t even allow fun or engaging distractions to get in its way.
Symptom 5: Thoughts About Self-Harm or Suicide
When one has thoughts of how they might conduct physical harm on themselves, and especially when that might be to try and result in a suicide, then it’s another stark sign that depression has taken hold. It’s also known as suicidal ideation, and is a critical point in ongoing depression where it can be a matter of life and death if sufferers don’t reach out. In Australia, they can do so by calling numbers like Lifeline (13 11 14) to receive on-the-spot support.
Sometimes, however, such steps aren’t taken and it comes down to observant and vigilant friends and family to see the signs and try to intervene and help where they can.