Depression is an illness accompanied by both physical and psychological symptoms. It alters the brain chemicals and can significantly affect the person’s day to day life. Psychological support and treatment are necessary. The majority of people affected by depression only become aware of it when they have already had it for a while. So what are the symptoms? And what can you do if you know someone who is suffering from depression?
1) Significant weight loss or weight gain
Losing or gaining over 5% of your body weight in the space of a month is one of the most visible signs of depression or other illnesses.
When weight loss is unexpected and is not linked to diet or exercise, the change in weight is often linked to a loss of appetite which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. This sudden change in appetite can also lead to anaemia, fatigue and impaired concentration.
Weight gain is often due to the fact that the depressed person is eating more, or could be suffering from an eating disorder, such as compulsive overeating. Anorexia and bulimia are other possible related illnesses.
Apart from in the cases of lack of sleep or fatigue caused by use of electronic devices, an overly rich diet or stress, this symptom should not be taken lightly in the case of depression.
In the case of depression, sleep is altered to the extent that the person wants to sleep during the day and finds it hard to fall asleep at night. Be careful with using alcohol or medication which can make fatigue and lack of sleep even worse.
It is recommended that you consult a psychologist or a doctor in the case of intense fatigue and chronic or regular lack of sleep.
Irritability, vexation and sadness, if they are almost permanently present, are generally signs of depression. Mood swings occur as a result of the sleep problems and nutritional deficiencies induced by depression.
People who are depressed can be irritable because their perception of reality is often altered, especially if they are not aware of their illness. Depression can also manifest as isolation or solitude, when a person prefers to spend most of their time alone and avoids confrontations with others or disputes.
4) A feeling of guilt
The feeling of guilt is very common among people suffering from depression, which intensifies their negative emotions.
The slightest decision is plagued with doubt, it takes them a long time to make decisions, and they feel guilty about having made even the smallest decisions that had any sort of negative effect. In some cases, the person will stop wanting to make any decisions, big or little, and can enter into a phase of inactivity or a lack of interest in anything.
This sensation can increase the person’s isolation, meaning their social relationships, be they with friends, acquaintances, families or partners, tend to suffer.
5) Muscle pain and digestive problems
We already know that our emotions, positive or negative, can sometimes have a strong effect on our bodies.
A depressed person may present with different signs that go unnoticed:
- skin hypersensitivity
- muscle pain or stiffness
- digestive problems
These signs could be the symptoms of other more common illnesses or problems, and it is best to consult a doctor for tests. Such tests should determine whether the symptoms are caused by depression, stress or some other psychological problem.
6) What can you do in the case of depression, or if you know someone who is depressed?
Depression is a complex illness which is experienced differently by each person who suffers from it. Some people have intrusive thoughts that can go so far as to lead them to suicide if they do not get the right support.
If you have noticed one or several of the above signs in somebody who seems isolated, pay them some attention and try and direct them towards a professional who can help.
Depending on the depressed person’s needs, they could be directed towards a psychologist, whose main mission is to listen to their patient and to follow up with them until they are no longer needed, or towards a psychiatrist, who has the same goals but who may prescribe anti-depressants.
Other health professionals may also be able to help, such as hypnotherapists, naturopaths and aromatherapists, or other alternative therapists (masseuses, acupuncturists, acupressurists, etc.)
Certain natural remedies and homeopathy cures have been found to be effective for depression.
The best natural remedies for fighting or preventing depression are found in the beauty of nature, exercise or physical activity, fulfilling social relationships, music and a balanced, anti-fatigue diet.