Sadness or downswings in mood are normal reactions to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of
feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness. Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some
depressed people don't feel sad at all they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless. Whatever the
symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The
feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal
lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these
symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that's when it's time to seek help.
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the
pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It's not just a warning sign that the person is
thinking about suicide: it's a cry for help.
Depression often looks different in men and women, and in young people and older adults. An awareness of these differences helps ensure that the problem is recognized and treated.
-Depression in men:
Many associate it, however wrongly, with a sign of weakness and excessive emotion. This is especially true with men. Depressed men are less likely than women to
acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness. Instead, they tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies.
Other signs and symptoms of depression in men include anger, aggression, violence, reckless behavior, and substance abuse. Even though depression rates for women are
twice as high as those in men, men are a higher suicide risk, especially older men. Many people feel sad when summer wanes, but some actually develop depression with
the season’s change. Known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this form of depression affects about 1% to 2% of the population, particularly women and young people.
SAD seems to be triggered by more limited exposure to daylight; typically it comes on during the fall or winter months and subsides in the spring. To combat SAD, doctors
suggest exercise, particularly outdoor activities during daylight hours. Exposing yourself to bright artificial light may also help. Light therapy, also called phototherapy,
usually involves sitting close to a special light source that is far more intense than normal indoor light for 30 minutes every morning. The light must enter through your eyes
to be effective; skin exposure has not been proven to work. Some people feel better after only one light treatment, but most people require at least a few days of treatment,
and some need several weeks. You can buy boxes that emit the proper light intensity (10,000 lux) with a minimal amount of ultraviolet light without a prescription, but it is
best to work with a professional who can monitor your response.
-Depression in women:
This is due in part to hormonal factors, particularly when it comes to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression, and
perimenopausal depression. As for signs and symptoms, women are more likely than men to experience pronounced feelings of guilt, sleep excessively, overeat, and gain
weight. Women are also more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
-Depression in Teens:
While some depressed teens appear sad, others do not. In fact, irritability rather than depression is frequently the predominant symptom in depressed adolescents and
teens. A depressed teenager may be hostile, grumpy, or easily lose his or her temper. Unexplained aches and pains are also common symptoms of depression in young
-Depression in Older Adults:
The difficult changes that many older adults face such as bereavement, loss of independence, and health problems can lead to depression, especially in those without a
strong support system. However, depression is not a normal part of aging. Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and
symptoms of depression, and so the problem often goes unrecognized. Depression in older adults is associated with poor health, a high mortality rate, and an increased risk
of suicide, so diagnosis and treatment are extremely important.
Bipolar Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of Manic DepressionMany new mothers suffer from some fleeting form of the “baby blues.” Postpartum depression, in
contrast, is a longer lasting and more serious depression triggered, in part, by hormonal changes associated with having a baby. Postpartum depression usually develops
soon after delivery, but any depression that occurs within six months of childbirth may be postpartum depression.