Depression is a common, serious medical illness that impacts how we feel, think and act. The good news is that it is very treatable.

By understanding the symptoms associated with depression we can get the help that is needed for ourselves or a family member. If you are an employer or a people manager, understanding and recognising depression can ensure that colleagues get the support they need with real benefits for both the employee and the company.

Depression can cause feelings of sadness, low mood or hopelessness. Sometimes it is associated with changes in appetite, sleep patterns and energy. People living with depression may also experience feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and struggle to focus, or make decisions.

Are you just feeling a little down and or is it potentially depression?

Depression is more than simply feeling a little down or fed up for a couple of days. Most people will at times go through periods of low mood and don’t have anything to worry about. It is perfectly normal to feel this way every now and then. Life was probably not meant to be “Instagram happy”, full of only the best of the best bits. For most of us, life generally has a few ups and downs, and sometimes we need a little extra help.

Depression can be caused by a number of things, sometimes there is a trigger. Life changing events such as bereavement, the loss of a job, preparing for or having a baby can bring depression on. Some people may have a family history of depression, and for others, depression can just seemingly come from nowhere.

Knowing the symptoms can help you or people around you get help

The symptoms of depression are may be experienced by many of us at some point in our lives. Such feelings can affect people of all ages, from the very young to the very old. At whichever age depression is experienced it should be taken seriously and prompt action is always beneficial. Many people leave it too long before seeking help. Delaying getting help can sometimes lead to further declines in how you are feeling. Left unchecked, depression can impact relationships, careers and the ability to lead a fulfilled life. Taking action is a very positive, courageous step. Definitely not something to be associated with weakness.

The difference between diagnosable depression and low mood is whether the symptoms lift after a reasonable amount of time. If the symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks and don’t go away, then you may benefit from talking to your Doctor or a Counsellor.

Signs of depression that you might notice in yourself or others

The following list is not exhaustive but includes some of the things that might typically be seen in or felt by someone who is experiencing depression, particularly at the onset of their depression.

1. Change in appetite

You might notice a change in eating patterns. You could find yourself, eating less, or even eating more. It might be that you no longer enjoy eating the things that you used to. People experiencing depression can see their weight going up as they start eating more as a distraction or to make themselves feel better. For others, it may see them neglecting to feed themselves properly as their self-care regime becomes impacted. In other cases, they may become overly focused on keeping their weight down as body image and self-esteem challenges arise.

2. Changes in sleep patterns

People experiencing depression can often find their sleep patterns change. For some, they will start to sleep irregularly. In some cases sleeping less and in others sleeping more. Getting to sleep may become a greater challenge than it used to be and for some it may prove harder to stay asleep. They may find themselves waking in the early hours of the morning, then finding it hard to get back to sleep. As a result of these changed sleep patterns, even if the person sleeps longer, they might find themselves becoming more tired than usual.

3. A lack of energy

Someone experiencing depression may find themselves lacking in energy or enthusiasm even if they are not affected by changes to their eating and sleeping patterns. The lack of energy may result in it being hard to get out of bed, or they might find they struggle to start working or staying focused on what they are doing. Physical exercise may become harder to do when someone experiences depression.

4. No longer enjoying things you used to

You might notice yourself or someone close to you does not enjoy things they used to. This could be something that they liked to do or even eat previously. They may previously have had a real passion for doing something or going somewhere, but no longer do so or do so reluctantly. They might even stop enjoying going out with friends that they used to like being around.

5. Feelings of sadness, numbness or hopelessness

When experiencing depression some might find that their mood drops significantly and they have a continual sense of sadness. Others might find that they have days where they feel numbness or hopelessness and just want to give up. In some, a feeling of numbness might actually bring temporary relief especially if their depression was accompanied by a feeling of anxiety.

6. Reduced self-esteem or confidence

A reduced sense of self-worth, self-esteem or confidence in one’s abilities can result when someone is experiencing depression. You might find yourself struggling to talk to colleagues or your boss in the same way that you used to. You might even struggle to make phone calls, or walking into a shop and talking to people. The confidence that you had in yourself and the level of comfort you had interacting with or being amongst people may have reduced.

There are things you can do to help yourself

If the feelings don’t go away and become difficult to cope with or interfere with your normal life, then you might want to consider making changes in your life. Our bodies are amazing, and there are many things that we can do ourselves to help with how we are feeling. For some, life changes such as getting more exercise, cutting down on alcohol, eating more healthily or even making new quality and positive friends can have significant benefits to how they feel. Where this doesn’t work, or where the low mood or depression lasts more than a couple of weeks or continues to return frequently then it is important to seek help.

Seeking professional help

For many people who are potentially experiencing depression, talking to someone experienced in listening and helping with how you are feeling is beneficial. That’s where a trained, experienced counsellor comes in. They have the ability to hear how you are feeling and help you put it into context. They can listen in an impartial, non-judgemental manner and really hear what you are saying.

A trained counsellors training will allow them to help you cope and manage how you are feeling. A trained counsellor can empower you to make the changes needed to restore your mental wellness to healthy levels.

Aware Psychology and Coaching offer face to face counselling in Sydney, or secure and confidential online video counselling wherever you are located in the world.

You can instantly book an appointment online with Aware Psychology and Coaching by clicking the “Book” button on this page. You can also find out more about our services by visiting our website, calling 0406 320006 country code 61 if overseas) or by emailing aware@awarepsychology.com

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