Signs and Symptoms

List of Signs & Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms

Depression is a well-defined medical illness and its symptoms are intense; prolonged and interfere with a person’s daily activities.

The observable signs of depression are:
1. Low mood or “down” feeling
2. Lack of appetite  or eating disorder and weight loss
3. Fatigue or loss of energy and restlessness
4. Intense Anxiety, agitation and inner tension
5. Withdrawal from normal company (family, friends and co-workers)
6. Depressed or low mood
7. Loss of interest and enjoyment of ordinary activities of daily life.
8. Reduced energy, being easily fatigued, diminished activity
9. Marked tiredness on slight effort
10. Reduced concentration and attention on a task
11. Reduced confidence and self-esteem
12. Feeling of guilt and unworthiness
13. Bleak and pessimistic views of the future
14. Ideas or acts of self-destruction or suicide
15. Disturbed sleep
16. Diminished appetite and libido
17. Unexplained physical symptoms.

When should a person consult a doctor?
1. If symptoms as outlined above persist for at least two weeks.
2. When there is significant impairment of social and occupational functioning.
3. If normal stresses of life do not explain the symptoms.
4. When rest and relaxation have not helped

Normally, emotions such as anxiety, anger, pride, love, pain or joy interact to motivate a person to a goal-directed action. However, when certain emotions predominate and persist beyond their usefulness in motivating people to continue with their goal-directed behaviour, they become morbid or pathological. This is what happens in patients with depression.

All human beings also have variations in their ‘moods’. Mood can be understood as the amalgam of emotions that a person feels over a period of time. The effects of mood on a person’s behaviour are widespread and complex. Mood determines a person’s attention, thought, behaviour and interests and, at the unconscious level, influences functions such as appetite and sleep. Many physical sensations, such as energy, pain, strength and sex drive are directly influenced by emotions.

Thus moods can cause a significant change in a person’s behaviour. Depression is traditionally classified in all major classification systems under mood disorders or affective disorders.

Important Aspects of Depression

Depression as a disease requires prompt diagnosis and intensive treatment.

Depression can be incapacitating. In fact, impaired work performance is often an early manifestation.

Depression is a distinct break from a person’s usual pre-morbid self.

The sufferer experiences depression as qualitatively distinct from grief or other understandable reactions to loss or adversity.

Sometimes there may be a history of similar episodes in the past.

There may be a history of similar episodes and/or suicide in the family

Detecting Depression

The clinical interview is the most effective method for detecting depression. The interview elicits the nature, degree and severity of depressive symptoms. It also helps to identify various types of depression, the course and outcome of the disorders, and various factors like stressors, psychosocial support, physical disorders, concomitant medications, family history and alcohol and substance abuse if indicated. The interview helps to determine if the patient has suicidal ideas, and if so, how grave the intention is. It also records the patient’s level of functioning and the presence of psychotic features like delusions or hallucinations.

Who’s at Risk?

1. Women are at greater risk than men.
2. Separated and divorced people.
3. A person having a close family member with depression.
4. Early parental loss.
5. Negative stressful events and chronic stress.
6. Lack of social support.
7. Family type and those living in urban areas compared to rural areas.

What is Depression?

In the simplest way possible, Depression (depressive disorder) may be defined as an illness that involves the body, mind, mood and thoughts – some saying it really affects the spirit and the soul, as well.

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What Causes Depression?

The cause of depression is not fully known. A number of factors may be involved, such as chemical imbalances in the brain or family history. Depression isn’t caused by personal weakness, lack of willpower, or a ‘bad attitude.’

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Treating Depression

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be effectively treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is.

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