While everyone can feel down from time to time, depression is much more persistent and severe. Depression is a mental health disorder that has many symptoms, both physical and mental. Many people assume that depression is trivial and something that you can shake off, but it is not as easy as this. Depression and persistent sadness that lasts for weeks, months or years can be treated and combined with the right support to help those with depression can recover fully.
As depression is such a varied health condition, it can affect people in many different ways. For some, depression may manifest as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Post-natal Depression, Bipolar Disorder or Psychotic Depression.
What is Depression?
Typically, depression will create feelings of anxiety, low mood, unhappiness and a loss of interest in things you usually enjoy; you may feel very lethargic and emotional. Depression can vary in intensity with some people experiencing mild symptoms while others will experience something much more severe. There are many symptoms associated with depression, both physical and mental, which may indicate that you are suffering from the condition.
What are the Causes?
Depression can be brought on from a number of different reasons, such as a life-changing event, a stressful situation or bereavement. Depression is a common health condition that affects around 10% of the population at some point during their life. If you have a family history of depression, then you may be more likely to experience it yourself. Likewise, it may be brought on, seemingly, for no reason at all.
Ten Signs of Depression
Symptoms can vary and persist for different lengths of time. Generally, people will notice symptoms that persist for weeks and affect interactions and experiences with work, family and friends.
Five Psychological Symptoms of Depression
1. Helplessness - Depression can cause you to feel hopeless and helpless and have a bleak outlook on your situation or life in general.
2. Anger - You may feel more irritable, angry or agitated. You may notice a shorter temper and feel that things get on your nerves quickly.
3. Lack of drive - You may feel unmotivated and lose interest in things that you used to enjoy. It may be harder to make decisions, and you are struggling to enjoy things in life.
4. Continuous sadness - Prolonged sadness and low mood that lasts longer than a week can be a sign of depression. You may feel very emotional, tearful and full of guilt.
5. Suicidal - Depression can cause you to feel suicidal or make you consider destructive thoughts or lead to self-harm.
Five Physical Symptoms of Depression
1. Fatigue - You may have an unexplained loss of energy and feel lifeless or drained. Small tasks can leave you feeling exhausted, and you may feel like you can't complete them.
2. Change in weight - You may experience a significant and sudden weight loss or gain as your appetite changes.
3. Unexplained pain - You may have unexplained aches and pains in various parts of your body or a total feeling of being run-down.
4. Trouble sleeping - Depression may leave you struggling to fall asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, feeling restless or waking up very early in the mornings.
5. Loss of libido - Another symptom is a low sex drive. In women, depression can also alter your menstrual cycle.
Depression: Age and Gender Variants
Depression is known to vary from person to person, what's more, there are noticeable differences between age and gender.
Men with depression are more likely to feel fatigue, irritability, anger and recklessness. It is likely to lead to substance abuse, sleep problems and a lack of interest.
Women with depression are likely to be influenced by hormones, such as pregnancy, menopause and menstruation. Women may also experience post-natal/post-partum depression, which is depression following childbirth.
Adults are likely to recognise and complain more about the physical symptoms of depression rather than the psychological side. It is expected that the older generation will notice aspects such as unexplained aches, fatigue and memory problems and could neglect their health.
The younger generation are likely to express their depression through anger, irritability and losing their nerve with people rather than the classic sadness that many will experience with depression. The pains they feel may include stomach upsets and headaches.
Suicide and Depression
Unfortunately, the feelings and symptoms of depression can feel overwhelming. Many people feel like they are stuck in the cycle with no way of feeling better or having an improved outlook on life. Sadly, the feelings that come with depression can lead to a risk of suicide. The hopelessness experienced with depression may lead to the thought that suicide is the only way to escape the pain.
For anyone with depression, it is essential that they realise that these feelings are not permanent and that there is the treatment and support available to manage the depression. If you are feeling suicidal, or suspect that someone is, then make sure to reach out to the suicide support channels available.
Help and Treatment
Depending on how mild or severe the depression is, will change the level of treatment offered. After a discussion with a GP, you can talk through the options of treatment available and decide which are the best for you. Treatments can include;
Your GP will also help you craft a plan to help you lie with your depression and how you can improve your mood for the long term. By working together, or using a team of people with mental health knowledge, you can feel supported and help to improve the symptoms you are feeling and ensure that you have everything in place to promote recovery.
It is important to recognise the symptoms of depression and reach out to the appropriate support services available so you can receive the right treatment and find the proper channels to lift your mood.
There are other support services available for those living in Spain for those who feel they need to speak to someone in confidence. Samaritans in Spain have a drop in center in the Torrevieja area of the Costa Blanca or you can speak to them directly via their free-phone number +34 900 525 100