Danielle Ibelema, MD
Why Do I Feel Bad? Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Depression
"I'm tired, I feel "blah", and I can't get out bed in the morning. I feel like I'm failing even though I just got a promotion. I used to love running, but I just don't the energy or the motivation to do it anymore"
Depression is a common clinical diagnosis that can affect thought process, how you feel and how you are able to function in life. Depression is characterized by low mood, low energy and loss of interest in things are usually pleasurable and fulfilling.
Depression can create a negative filter over an individuals view and outlook. That filter can make the outside world look bleaker and more negative than the reality of what it is. It can obscure the view that someone has of themself and their accomplishments; It can be liked to feelings of guilt and a loss of hope.
Clinical depression tends to be episodic- meaning it can come and go, and it exists on a spectrum ranging from mild to severe and disabling. There isn't one specific way that depression presents.There are "high functioning" individuals who are depressed but and are able to engage at work or school, but may be struggling internally and behind the scenes. And there are those who may appear sad and less functional externally.
Risk factors for depression include a history of trauma, recent life transition, physical illness and a family history of depression or another mood disorder.
Signs of Depression
Clinical depression is considered after symptoms have been present for at at least two weeks.While each person may experience symptoms differently, these are the most common symptoms of depression:
Sad or depressed mood
Loss of interest in activities
Increased or decreased appetite
Increased or decreased sleep
A change in sleep pattern like early morning awakening
Slowing of physical activity, speech
Decreased energy, feeling tired
Feelings of worthlessness and/or feelings of guilt
Thoughts of death or suicide (Note: This needs emergency treatment)
Treatment for Depression
If you think you may have depression, it's important to seek help from a medical professional. A professional can help provide a clinical assessment to determine if depression is likely, and to rule out other medical conditions.
Medication and psychotherapy are most commonly used to treat depression. A combination of medication and psychotherapy is associated with better outcomes compared to treatment with one modality in isolation. ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) may be an option for treatment resistant depression.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.