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We often use the expression ‘I feel depressed’ when we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass in due course. But, if the feelings are interfering with your life and don't go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re depressed in the medical sense of the term.
In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be life-threatening, because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.
The following are all symptoms of depression, and if you tick off five or more of any of them you are probably depressed.
* I am low-spirited for much of the time, every day
* I feel restless and agitated
* I get tearful easily
* I feel numb, empty and full of despair
* I feel isolated and unable to relate to other people
* I am unusually irritable or impatient
* I find no pleasure in life or things I usually enjoy
* I feel helpless
* I have lost interest in sex
* I am experiencing a sense of unreality
* I am not doing activities I usually enjoy
* I am avoiding social events I usually enjoy
* I have cut myself off from others and can’t ask for help
* I am self-harming
* I find it difficult to speak
* I am having difficulty remembering things
* I find it hard to concentrate or make decisions
* I blame myself a lot and feel guilty about things
* I have no self-confidence or self-esteem
* I am having a lot of negative thoughts
* The future seems bleak
* What’s the point?
* I have been thinking about suicide
* I have difficulty sleeping
* I am sleeping much more than usual
* I feel tired and have no energy
* I have lost my appetite, and am losing weight
* I am eating a lot more than usual and putting on weight
* I have physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
* I am moving very slowly
* I am using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual
Depression presents itself in many different ways. You may not realise what's going on, because sometimes your problems seem to be physical, rather than mental or emotional. There are also some other mental health problems often linked to depression.
People who are depressed often have anxiety as well, the two problems often occur together and each can make the other worse. If you are feeling anxious, your mind may be full of busy, repetitive thoughts, which make it hard to concentrate, relax, or sleep. You may have physical symptoms, such as headaches, aching muscles, sweating and dizziness. Anxiety may cause physical exhaustion and general ill health.
If you are severely depressed you may start to have experiences or thoughts that others around you do not share. For example, you may hear voices, see visions, believe that you are evil, or are influencing events in a way that is harmful to others. You may believe that you are a bad person and you deserve to feel as you do. These are false beliefs and may be part of the depression.
You may feel that life is not worth living and start thinking about ways of killing yourself. Thoughts like these may seem difficult to control and be very frightening. If you feel that you may harm yourself you can call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 to talk to someone immediately.
Depression is like Hell on Earth, it's dark, lonely and very selfish. The feeling of not wanting to live, but not wanting to die...