Depression symptoms may vary from mild to severe and must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression. Symptoms of depression include:
- feelings of sadness or low mood
- loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- feelings of worthless and guilt
- lack of energy, fatigue
- change in appetite (decrease or increase appetite) leading to weight loss/gain
- poor concentration
- difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowness of movements or speech
- suicidal ideation
However, many depressed patient often present with non-specific unexplained physical symptoms such as abdominal pain, back pain, constipation, insomnia, fatigue, dizziness, headache, neck pain, joint pain and feeling weak often with no underlying organic cause found.
There are many challenging and stressful events that can happen in your life such as death of a loved one, ending of a relationship or loss of a job. It is normal to feel sad or grief when facing such situations. Being sad is not the same as having depression. Grieving process is a natural and unique to each individual and may shares some of the same features of depression such as feeling sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. Grief and depression can often co-exist. Usually depression persists for longer period of time, everyday for more than two weeks associated with more severe symptoms such as feeling worthless, guilt and suicidal.
Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Almost 80-90% of patient with depression gain relief from their symptoms after treatment with anti-depressant. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, regular exercise and avoiding alcohol may also relief symptoms of depression.
Depression is not a state of weakened mind. Depression is a real illness and help is available. There are stigma associated with having mental illness. Often patients are worried to seek treatment for concern of their psychiatric diagnosis affecting future career prospects and relationship and thus preventing them from seeking help early. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people with depression will overcome it. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, talk to medical professional as there are various treatment available to treat depression.