Symptoms of Depression

Ways of Living Depression

For some people, its low motivation and energy.  Other folks find they sleep too much — or way too little.  Some folks are more short-tempered, agitated, or irritable than sad.  Often there is weight gain or loss.  The time periods of depressions vary widely — from a few weeks to years.  I’ve had many clients say “I’m always sad in the winter months” — apparently not stopping to realize that this is a concern.  (S.A.D. — seasonal affective disorder – is very treatable).

Many clients never use the word depression.  They say they are lonely, or misunderstood, or tired, or unmotivated, or grieving, etc.  I rarely care what label we do or do not give something.  What I care about is that we figure out the symptoms you are living and find ways to mitigate and eliminate them.

The label we stick on conditions is only sometimes useful:

  • If it is a relief to know what’s wrong and that counseling knows how to treat it, then a diagnosis is welcome.
  • If it’s embarrassing or angry-invoking to have a “mental health condition” — or if you just feel that depression is a normal part of life — then there are infinite alternative ways to describe the situation (“misunderstood”, “lonely” etc. as above).

For the sake of completeness, here’s the list of common depression symptoms listed in the diagnostic manual that most counselors refer to (there are others).  Depression is characterized by having most of these symptoms most days for at least two weeks.  There are various exceptions and rule-outs for other conditions:

  • Depressed mood.  Could feel empty, sad, or irritable.   May be tearful or cry easily.  Oddly enough, actually feeling sad is not an absolute requirement of depression.
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in most activities, even some that are favorites.
  • Large weight gain or weight loss (when not dieting).
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much most days.  Sleep pattern changes such as sleeping all day and staying up all night.
  • Agitated or sluggish movements.
  • Trouble relaxing for long periods of time.
  • Low dragging energy.
  • Feeling tired. Feeling inappropriately or excessively guilty.
  • Feeling worthless.
  • Sluggish fuzzy thinking.  Trouble concentrating or making decisions.  Memory impairment.
  • Reoccurring thoughts about death, and/or thoughts about suicide (with or without an actual plan or intention to follow-through).

I mentioned Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) above.  This is a mood disorder in which persons experience symptoms associated with depression (sadness, low energy, weight gain, loss of interest in activities, & more) during the winter months when exposure to sunlight is diminished.  It can rarely happen during other months of the year too.  You can access a blog article I did on this topic and the use of full spectrum lighting and negative ion generators by clicking here.