Feeling sad, being “depressed,” having “dark thoughts” or experiencing difficulty sleeping does not necessarily mean you have depression. For a person to be considered to be suffering from major depressive disorder:4
It is important to discuss all the symptoms you may have with your doctor.2,4,12
The goal of any treatment is to help you feel more like yourself again so that you are able to enjoy the things you used to. To do so means finding the right treatment to address and alleviate all of your symptoms. Even if you are prescribed medication, this may take some time and may require trying different medications before you find the one that works best. Also, the goal of treatment goes beyond just getting better it is about staying better.3
Depression is not simply a temporary change in mood or a sign of weakness. It is a real medical condition with many emotional, physical, behavioural and cognitive symptoms.1,2
This feeling of sadness can occur for no apparent reason (such as a serious event). It can be intense and feel like there is nothing that will make it go away.11
A depressed person often experiences negative and unrealistic feelings of guilt.4
These ideas can occur frequently during depression. They must be taken very seriously and the person must ask for help right away if they are experiencing such emotions.
This loss of interest may affect all areas of life: from previous hobbies (going to movies, reading, shopping…) to everyday activities the person used to enjoy (cooking, doing odd jobs, playing with the children…).11
People with depression often feel low on energy, even when they have not exerted themselves. This depressive fatigue is characterized by the fact that neither rest nor sleep alleviate it.4
Depression may make one feel as if everything is slowed down – slowed speech, thinking, and body movements; increased pauses before answering; speech that is decreased in volume, inflection, amount or variety of content, or muteness may accompany depression.4
Depression can be accompanied by physical pain (headaches, joint pain, stomach pain and other pains).4
Sleep is often broken and unrefreshing. The person often wakes up in the early hours and mental anguish prevents him or her from getting back to sleep. Other cases can include excessive sleep.
Often weight loss or weight gain is a significant sign in diagnosing depression.
Most commonly, appetite is decreased: food seems tasteless and servings too large. Conversely, people sometimes increase their food consumption (especially sweets) which can result in weight gain.
For some people depression makes them feel very agitated and almost jumpy (for example, inability to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing, fiddling with clothes or other items, etc.).4
Depression can cause one to experience diminished ability to think or concentrate, or cause one to demonstrate indecisiveness.
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms in the list above and they are affecting your life, do not hesitate to ask for help: you may be suffering from depression.
In this case, seeing a doctor is a crucial step. But, do not overlook the help you can get from those around you – and what you can do to look after yourself.
Only a doctor can diagnose depression.