Continuing from the previous discussion, we have noted that depression as an entity is different from sadness or grief. It has some clear biological underpinnings that differentiate it from the others. But, what is evident is the symptoms. Major depression/ clinical depression typically presents with a characteristic cluster of symptoms:
- Persistent and all-encompassing low mood
- Fatigue and decreased energy or increased restlessness
- Loss of interest in all pleasurable activities of the past
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details,
- Associated anxious/ empty feelings or irritability
- Pessimistic thoughts of helplessness, hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness
- Thoughts related to death, suicide and suicide attempts
- Changes in sleep patterns, appetite (usually reduced) and increased physical complaints
While these are the common symptoms, over the lifespan, depression may present itself in many ways. This may accidentally lead to people stating that they don’t have clinical depression even though they are suffering and at times finding it difficult to function. Symptoms of depression in childhood may differ from the above mentioned symptoms in that there may be features of aggression, anger, excessive crying. Children may also manifest a more reactive mood as compared to the persistent and all-encompassing low mood seen in older individuals.
As children age into preadolescence and adolescence, there may be an increase in irritability associated with reduced social interactions and isolation, reduced or increased sleep, sometimes associated with increased appetite and craving for high carbohydrate diet. Typically, this is more than “adolescent problems” and is associated with dysfunction typically in the form of academic decline, conflict with authority, use of drugs or alcohol. Typically college going people manifest symptoms that include characteristics of symptoms found in both adolescents and adults with a general increase in exposure to drugs and alcohol use, and an increase in self injurious behaviors. As people age, there is a greater likelihood of emergence of physical symptoms of depression.
Keep in mind, that while knowing the symptoms of depression is important for you to seek help, self -diagnosis of mental health issues may do more harm than good. A detailed clinical evaluation by a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist is essential to make a diagnosis and start treatment.
-Dr. Shiva Prakash
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