Today, we know that depression is a phenomenon found in different cultures across the globe. Depression may be expressed in a variety of ways; with elements of anxiety or anger for some individuals, while others may tend to experience depressive episodes during a particular season. This blog will outline the primary symptoms of depression and the treatment following this diagnosis.
- Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless for most of the day, every day for over 2 weeks.
- Being unable to enjoy all or almost all activities or things (even ones that used to be enjoyable before). Losing interest and pleasure in things is called ‘anhedonia’, and this is a primary symptom of depressive experiences. Some individuals might experience a significant loss in sexual interest or desire.
- A significant increase or loss in appetite which causes either over-eating (and cravings for a particular type of food such as sweets) or having to force feed one’s self due to a lack of appetite.
- Being unable to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping for much longer periods of time than usual (hypersomnia).
- Experiencing restlessness/agitation or a ‘slowing down’ (slowed speech, thinking, and movements), along with feeling tired and a loss of energy every day. This fatigue often makes it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand or make decisions.
- Feeling worthless or excessive guilt. Thoughts about death may also be present and vary in intensity. It is important to seek professional help in order to give yourself the necessary support to empower yourself in what seems like a hopeless situation.
(American Psychiatric Association, 2013)
Needless to say, these symptoms cause significant distress and so difficulties emerge in different aspects of the person’s life (social interactions/ work/ family relations). A habit of being excessively self-critical often leads the person to misinterpret neutral events as ‘proof’ of their own personal defects and so reinforce their negative thinking.
Many individuals (especially adolescents) experience depression with an extreme irritability, which is likely to be followed by angry outbursts and blaming others. Other individuals with depression might experience more physical symptoms via aches in the body.
Note: Please note that if a person has gone through a significantly difficult event, such as a major loss (of a loved one or their financial situation), a natural disaster (such as a global pandemic) or serious medical complications, it is likely that the person experiences some of these symptoms of a depressive episode. Such a reaction to a significantly challenging event is difficult to process and may lead the individual to ‘conserve’ their resources and become more withdrawn.
Psychotherapy as well as medication have been found to inspire positive changes in an individual experiencing depression. Therapy may offer structure, safety, and the time and space for creative change as one grows to regain agency in their own process of wellbeing. Medication can be a necessary means of helping the person regain normal functioning by removing distressing symptoms in certain cases (Hollon, 2005).
Amber Tabone practices Gestalt Psychotherapy with individuals and couples at Willingness. While currently reading for a Master’s in Psychotherapy, she has developed an interest in working with relationships, gender, and sexuality thanks to her experience with families and domestic violence issues.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: Author.
Hollon, S. D. (2005). Psychotherapy and Medication in the Treatment of Adult and Geriatric Depression: Which Monotherapy or Combined Treatment? The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 455–468. Retrieved 11 20, 2020, from https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-04409-008