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Depression is commonly thought of as an extreme form of sadness, however, it’s much more complex than that. While chronic sadness is usually a major symptom, it’s far from the only one and in some cases, depressed individuals don’t appear to be sad at all.
Hopelessness is a common depression symptom that can have multifaceted effects. People with depression often feel as if most activities are pointless, which can make it very difficult to feel any sort of motivation. This is usually accompanied by a general lack of physical and mental energy.
Despite having a sense of apathy and hopelessness, people with depression often experience extreme emotions at seemingly inappropriate times. Mood swings are a frequently seen consequence of depression and men especially are prone to outbursts of anger or irritability. While there’s no evidence to suggest depression directly contributes to anxiety, it’s not unusual for those experiencing depression to have anxiety symptoms such as an impending sense of danger, rapid heart rate, and constant worrying.
Depression also has a significant impact on sleep as it’s common for depressed individuals to wake up at random intervals when sleeping, experience insomnia, or oversleep. Not only are these symptoms problematic in and of themselves, but they can complicate other issues like emotional instability or lack of energy.
Depression can cause a large change in appetite and eating habits, with depressed individuals either losing the desire to eat almost entirely or opting for over-consuming food in an attempt to cope. This can prompt noticeably large fluctuations in weight over short periods of time.
Perhaps the most alarming symptom of depression is suicidal ideation. An extended period of feeling hopeless combined with the many negative repercussions of depression symptoms leads many sufferers to obsess over or fantasize about death. While this doesn’t necessarily mean someone is prepared to commit suicide, it could eventually result in them making plans to do so.
The combination of hopelessness decreased interest, and lack of energy means that depressed people are less likely to continue functioning as they normally would. The number of things they actively participate in can decrease considerably and they spend much more of their time engaging in passive activities, such as watching TV, or even doing nothing at all as they have no interest in anything.
Depression often manifests most severely in people’s personal lives as maintaining social relationships can become challenging. Depressed individuals are very likely to distance themselves from others due to a constant desire to be alone or because they simply don’t have the energy to do anything. A sense of inadequacy or self-loathing is a common depression-related issue and can make people feel as if their existence is detrimental to others or that others harbor negative feelings toward them.
Depression isn’t necessarily triggered by an event or series of events, which is why depression can arise at seemingly random times. If someone was once very sociable or outgoing but is suddenly withdrawn, then depression might be at fault even if no immediately obvious reason can be given as to why. This reluctance to socially engage with other people can often make depression worse as it can push people away and severely constrict emotional support networks.
Quality of work can also suffer. People who are productive, innovative, or otherwise model employees might see a significant decrease in work performance. Depressed people might also consistently show up late to work as they find it difficult to get up on time and subsequently find the motivation to go to work. Opportunities for career advancement or plans to switch careers won’t be followed through due to a lack of interest or energy.
There are many potential causes for depression, although it’s most often the case that there are multiple intersecting reasons why it develops.
Exceptionally stressful periods of time can result in people becoming depressed as properly coping can be difficult. This can be made worse if a person is isolated in some way. While some people can handle social isolation, most people need at least some human interaction. If people are going through a challenging time in their life and have no emotional support, they can quickly develop depression.
Although not immediate, past trauma can cause depression to surface later in life. Whether someone is exposed to something that reminds them of past events or if emotional pain is just internalized, depression can arise at any point in time as a result of previous hardships. This can sometimes be triggered or worsened by alcohol or drug abuse.
Genetics plays a significant role in whether someone becomes depressed or not as well as how severe depression can be. If depression runs in someone’s family, it makes it much more likely they’ll develop depression too, regardless of circumstance. Genetics can largely determine an individual’s disposition, habits, and approaches to situations. Some traits, like excessive worrying, can be emotionally exhausting and might potentially lead to someone developing depression.
If you think someone you care for has depression, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
Even if it might seem obvious, it’s a good idea to make someone know that they can talk to you and that you support them. Depressed individuals usually have bleak outlooks on things, so be reassured they’re not alone is incredibly important. They also might be interested in getting help for their depression or might not even be aware they have it; in either event, helping them get access to counseling resources would go a long way.
Be sure to stay in touch at least somewhat frequently and offer them invitations to do things with you or a group of others. Depressed people might give you the impression they’re not interested in social interaction, but further isolation is the worst possible outcome for them. It’s a good idea to be persistent, but not too overbearing. Assuming they’re seeking treatment, they’ll eventually become less reluctant to socialize.
It’s important to do what you can to be supportive, although certain pitfalls should be avoided. While medications can help with depression, it’s not an option everyone wants to, or should, seek, so it’s best to not pressure them into it. It’s also recommended to avoid comparisons. Depression is a serious medical condition that exists regardless of the perspective someone takes on life. Trying to alleviate it by explaining to them that their life situation could be worse or that everyone goes through hard times is unlikely to help.
While hopefully, it won’t be necessary, if you feel someone is seriously contemplating suicide, then don’t hesitate to encourage them to call their therapist for immediate advice. If the situation is especially dire, then you can escort them to an emergency room to receive a psychiatric evaluation and potentially more in-depth resources.
This article has not been paid for by any advertiser. LatestFact.com does not endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. This content is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice or analysis.