Doug didn't know what was happening to him. Ordinarily an outgoing person, he had begun spending his free time alone in his room. Life seemed to provide no pleasure. Even food didn't taste as good as before. He couldn't bring himself to study, and his grades were beginning to reflect it. His friends were starting to worry about him. He always seemed to be sleeping, and when he was awake he seemed distant, humorless and aloof. Normally cheerful, he could be seen crying over "little things." At times, feelings of guilt would almost overwhelm him. For the first time in his life, Doug was considering suicide. Doug was suffering from a deep depression.
At any point in time, 10 percent of the adult population is suffering from serious depression.
Signs of Depression
The pits. The blues. The blahs. Down in the dumps. Each of us has his own way of describing a depressed mood. Depression may mean something different for each individual, but there are numerous signs that suggest a person has a problem with depression.
First, there are behavioral signs. Depressed individuals begin to withdraw from their friends and activities. Daily activities become difficult, sometimes impossible. They may begin to neglect their appearance, they may cry frequently, sometimes for no reason. They feel tired much of the time, and may start spending a large part of the day in bed.
Also noticeable are changes in internal feelings. The person feels sad, gloomy and apathetic. Life offers no pleasure. Feelings of self-blame, worthlessness and hopelessness are common. Thoughts of suicide are not uncommon. Decisions, even minor ones, may be difficult to make.
Finally, there are physical symptoms characteristic of depression. A depressed individual often has headaches, digestive problems, and numerous aches and pains. Sleeping problems, especially early morning wakefulness, are common. The person may feel anxious and tense for no apparent reason. It is widely believed that a significant proportion of individuals consulting physicians with physical symptoms have an underlying depression.
Not all sadness is depression. Many of the above mentioned signs are also characteristic of a transient "down mood" that persists for only a short time. But depression, unlike transient sadness, tends to persist for a period of weeks or months, interferes with the person's ability to function in life in the way they need and want to and seems unshakable to the person experiencing it.
Steps to Take
Depression in Men
Depression is an illness that affects about 17 million Americans. 25% of women and 12 % of men will have depression at some time in their lives. Before puberty, the rates of depression in boys and girls are the same, but the incidence doubles in adult women. Hormonal changes may account for some of this difference, but many professionals believe that we often just fail to recognize depression in men because it tends to be manifested differently, for instance in more angry, acting-out behavior and more substance abuse than in women. For those of you who are particularly interested in depression in men, and would like to read stories by men about their experiences with depression, we recommend the following websites: