What is depression? The main thing to remember is that sadness isn’t depression. People can be sad and not be depressed. They can be depressed without thinking they are sad. There are a lot of symptoms that must be present for at least two weeks before you can define it as depression and treat it as depression. That’s why you want to pay close attention to your moods and the time the moods are lasting to determine if it’s really depression.
A depressed person will feel the following most of the time for longer than two weeks:
Irritable – Many people who get depressed lash out at others and are very moody and irritable. If you’re lashing out and acting out and feeling moody, this can be a serious sign of depression.
Loss of Pleasure – If you’re not enjoying doing the things you normally do and cannot find anything to do that brings you joy as it used to, consider that depression may be the cause.
Weight or Appetite Changes – It’s not unusual for depressed people to see significant weight changes either up or down due to poor dietary habits.
Sleep Disturbances – Because many depressed people also experience anxiety, they can end up suffering from lack of sleep. But many depressed people also sleep too much, especially during times when they need to be doing something else.
Feeling Restless – Due to having anxiety in addition to depression, which is very common, many depressed people feel restless and they cannot figure out why or calm themselves.
Moving Very Slowly – Some depressed people act like they’re in a trance and not in a hurry to accomplish anything, from going to work, school, or even to that concert they really wanted to attend three months ago.
Sluggish Feelings – Often a depressed person will feel as if they cannot fully wake up, so they feel sluggish and as if they’re watching themselves in a movie do everything each day without getting any joy from it.
Very Low Energy – Even when the depressed person is doing things that should be fun and active, they don’t do it with any zest for life.
Feeling Worthless – As the depression gets worse, they often feel worthless because they’re not accomplishing their goals.
Having a Lot of Guilt – The low energy, worthlessness, and other feelings all lead to one of the most destructive emotions you can experience, which is guilt.
Inability to Focus and Concentrate – Everything going on in your head can prevent you from being able to concentrate on anything or remember the things you need to be doing.
Thoughts of Dying – Some depressed persons often think about dying and different ways they might die, from house fires to car wrecks or cancer.
Suicidal Thoughts – When someone is majorly depressed, the thoughts of dying will turn to thoughts of ending it all themselves. This is a time where a suicide hotline needs to be called.
If you are suffering from sadness instead of depression, often there is an event that led to it such as the death of a loved one. Having said that, a death can send you into depression too. Any life-changing event (even those that are normally happy) can lead to depression, which is why it takes a strong person to look honestly at their symptoms and wellbeing and decide to get help.
If you or a loved one is experiencing the severity described in the symptoms above, please consider getting professional assistance so that you can get well faster. Sometimes an imbalance in nutrition and vitamins in your blood can lead to serious problems. Other times there doesn’t seem to be any physical cause. It’s best for a professional to analyze the situation to help you determine the course to take.
While you’re waiting to see the professional, try getting outside and back to nature more. Don’t isolate yourself from others. Try to spend more time with people who make you feel good about yourself. Don’t set any large goals or make any major life changes until you feel back to normal.
So to answer the question “What is depression?” we need to look at many things. And if you ever feel as if you’re suicidal or homicidal, please call a hotline to get help. Hotlines are listed in the phone book, as well as online. Just look up your area suicide hotline, and you’ll find trained people to talk to that can lead you to support in your area.