Here’s What Depression Looks Like

By Dr. Michael A. Lindsey
Modified By W. Ivey, LMHC

Recognizing Depression

Depression is a serious mental disorder that has the ability to deprive one of their emotional stability and increase their chances of partaking in risk behaviors. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9% of the total U.S. population report having feelings of depression.

The 2013 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index suggests a relationship between unemployment and escalated depression rates among U.S. citizens. Statistical data from the index reports about a 16% increase in depression among unemployed Americans in comparison to their employed counterparts, which is a clear indication of the prevalence of depression and the impact it has on society.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) characterizes major depressive disorder (MDD) by a sum of symptoms. The symptoms are described below. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression are the first steps to getting treatment and overcoming this mental illness.

The Seven Signs

• Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. You may have a bleak outlook regularly, feel as though there is no tomorrow and as if things will not improve in your life. You may also notice a decrease in your self-esteem and self-worth.

• Low energy level: You may have feelings of extreme tiredness, loss of energy majority of the day and not feel like doing much of anything.

• Poor concentration. You may have an inability to focus on things and activities that you normally can direct your focus on, or you may have difficulty making simple, every day decisions.

• Abnormal sleep patterns. You may notice significant changes in your sleep pattern as evidenced by problems falling or staying asleep. You may wake up odd hours of the night and/or fall asleep for prolonged periods of time throughout the day.

• Weight Loss. You may experience a significant amount of weight loss or weight gain in addition to changes in your appetite.

• Loss of interest. You may have minimal to no interest in doing activities you once found pleasurable and have trouble motivating yourself to do them once again.

• Suicidal thoughts. You may have repeated thoughts of harming yourself, that life isn’t worth living and/or you’re better off not living. You may have also developed a plan for committing suicide and/or have recurrent thoughts of carrying it out.

If you or your loved one experience a number of these on a regular basis, it is vital that you seek help from a health care provider for assessment and determination of the next steps.

Note: Special thanks to Amaris Watson, MSW for her research and work on the initial draft of this post.

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