Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Clinical Depression

Many of us wonder when we are going through a hard time in our lives “Could I be experiencing Clinical Depression? Or is this just a tough time that will soon pass?”  Recognizing the signs and symptoms of Clinical Depression can be confusing for many people.

Symptoms of depression can make work and our home life almost impossible to endure. Depression can skew your view of the world, making everything seem hopeless and no longer enjoyable. Depression can make you feel completely isolated and alone.

However, it’s more common than you think. Major depression affects about 14 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the population 18 or older in any given year. This list can help you recognize some of the key symptoms of clinical depression.

Recognizing the Emotional Symptoms of Clinical Depression

* Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or numb. These feelings are with you most of the day, every day.
* Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy. The clinical term for this is called “anhedonia”.  You may no longer feel interested in the things that you used to love doing. You might not like being around friends you used to enjoy. You might lose interest in sex.
* Irritability or anxiety. You might be short-tempered and find it hard to relax or stop worrying.
* Trouble making decisions. Depression can make it hard to think clearly or concentrate. Making a simple choice can seem overwhelming.
* Feeling guilty or worthless. These feelings are often exaggerated or inappropriate to the situation. You might feel guilty for things that aren’t your fault or that you have no control over. Or you may feel intense guilt for minor mistakes.
* Thoughts of death and suicide. The types of thoughts vary. Some people wish that they were dead, feeling that the world would be better off without them. Others make very explicit plans to hurt themselves.

Recognizing the Physical Symptoms of Depression

Most of us know about the emotional symptoms of depression. But you may not know that depression can be associated with many physical (bodily) symptoms, as well.

In fact, many people with depression suffer from chronic pain or other physical symptoms. These include:

* Headaches. These are fairly common in people with depression. If you already had migraine headaches, they may seem worse if you’re depressed or feeling “stressed out.”
* Back pain. If you already suffer with back pain, it may worsen if you become depressed.
* Muscle aches and joint pain. Depression can make any kind of chronic pain worse.
* Chest pain. Obviously, it’s very important to get chest pain checked out by an expert right away. It can be a sign of serious heart problems. But depression can contribute to the discomfort associated with chest pain.
* Digestive problems. You might feel queasy or nauseous. You might have diarrhea or become chronically constipated.
* Exhaustion and fatigue. No matter how much you sleep, you may still feel tired or worn out. Getting out of the bed in the morning may seem very hard, even impossible.
* Sleeping problems. Many people with depression can’t sleep well anymore. They wake up too early or can’t fall asleep when they go to bed. Others sleep much more than normal.
* Change in appetite or weight. Some people with depression lose their appetite and lose weight. Others find they crave certain foods — like carbohydrates laden sugar and/or fat — and gain weight.
* Dizziness or lightheadedness.

Because these symptoms occur with many conditions, many depressed people never get help, because they don’t know that their physical symptoms might be caused by depression. A lot of doctors miss the symptoms, too.

These physical symptoms aren’t “all in your head.” Depression can cause real changes in your body. For instance, it can slow down your digestion, which can result in stomach problems.

So now you’re left wondering “I have some of these symptoms, but does that mean I’m suffering from Clinical Depression?”  Talking with a Clinical Psychologist can help you determine if what you’ve been experiencing may be Clinical Depression, based on the number and duration of your symptoms, as well as help you determine what type of treatment is best for you.

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3 thoughts on “Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Clinical Depression

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