When most people hear the word "depression" they think of someone feeling sad or even hopeless. And that is often why so many people who ARE depressed fail to recognize it, at least initially. The fact is, Clinical Depression does not necessarily equal sad, self-pitying, or even "unhappy," at least in its early stages. However, if left untreated and if it doesn't resolve on its own, it can progress to feelings that equal sadness or even hopelessness. To get a better sense of the nature of this condition I'm listing the symptoms as they can often start and continuing to the point it can progress to if left untreated. But first of all, please realize that many things can trigger Depression. Another underlying illness or condition like heart disease or diabetes, hormonal changes (especially during and after pregnancy or during menopause), or stress related to a job or family situation, a major life change (either good or bad) like getting married or divorced, a job loss or a new job, a new baby or a miscarriage, etc.. For some there may seem to be no reason at all and in that case it could be a chemical imbalance in the brain. In any case, no matter what the cause, known or unknown, Depression is treatable and there is always hope! Please read on for a list of progressive symptoms for this all too common condition and remember that one need not have all or even half of these symptoms to have this condition, nor do these symptoms necessarily appear in this order. If you suspect that you or are a loved one has this condition, please speak to your Doctor right away.
The Progressive Symptoms of Depression (remember, a person does not need to have all of these symptoms in order to suffer from Depression, nor do these symptoms need to appear in this exact order):
1. FATIGUE. The first most common symptom: constant fatigue. Sometimes it is EXTREME.
2. LACK OF ENTHUSIASM. This leads to a general lack of enthusiasm for life. Many, most, or all tasks, events, or situations that require some effort seem difficult and results in one feeling a general lack of enthusiasm.
3. LACK OF ENJOYMENT. Inability to enjoy most anything. Due to 1 & 2 things that once brought enjoyment: social events, a job, relationships, sex, do not bring the enjoyment they once did.
4. GUILT. Guilt as a result of not feeling "upbeat" and for constantly feeling "tired."
5. ALIENATION. A sense of alienation from close loved ones and friends due to a) them not understanding the "lack of energy" or "enthusiasm" and b) the guilt the depressed individual feels as a result of feeling like they're "letting everyone down."
6. ANGER/FRUSTRATION. Feelings of anger and frustration at one's self and towards others is also common as a result of feeling out of control or unable to just "be happy."
7. HOPELESSNESS. A feeling of hopelessness as a result of not being able to "force" one's self to feel "energetic" or "enthusiastic."
8. SUDDEN AND/OR MAJOR BEHAVIORAL OR LIFE CHANGES. Feeling the need to change major aspects of one's life like their job/career, relationship status, where they live, who they associate with, etc., in the hope it will make things "better." Or they may engage in behaviors that are unusual or even risky or outright dangerous for them like: promiscuous and high risk sex, drug use, excessive alcohol use, spending large sums of money they can't afford, etc., all in order to "feel" better.
9. SADNESS/SORROW/DESPAIR. If changes are made and they still don't feel better this can result in self-pity, despair, even sadness, and the hopelessness grows. Or if those changes cannot be made, the symptoms also worsen.
10. SUICIDAL THOUGHTS (SPOKEN OR UNSPOKEN). The person may feel suicidal or at least entertain that notion. Or an outright attempt may be made. (Click here to read more about what symptoms to look for in order to identify potential suicidal ideation.)
11. FINAL SYMPTOM: suicide.
If you know someone who has any of these symptoms talk to them right away in a way that is not confrontational or judgmental. You may not want to ask if they are "depressed" as many equate Depression with symptoms from # 4 on (feeling sad, etc.) so they may not associate their fatigue or lack of enthusiasm with Depression. Or they may feel shame for feeling "down" when "logically" they have "no reason." The best thing to ask may simply be, "Hey, have you felt tired a lot lately? Not feeling motivated to do much?" Odds are, if asked in these terms in a polite and non-confrontational manner you'll get a lot further. If you are uncomfortable talking to someone about this, seek help from an experienced party such as a Doctor, Therapist, Clergy Member, etc.. Whatever you do, don't let someone you know who might be Depressed go on without them knowing you care for them and are there for them!
In closing, it is not normal to constantly feel tired, to not enjoy life (especially those things you once enjoyed), and to feel constant guilt, a sense of inadequacy, isolation, loneliness, etc. If you feel any of these things go see your Doctor. If you or anyone you know are even remotely entertaining thoughts of suicide this is not normal, it's not the answer, and there is HOPE and there is HELP. Call 800-SUICIDE or visit this web site: Hopeline or this website: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. God bless you and don't ever give up!