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.