Signs of Depression and Why They Make Sense

According to WebMD, the signs of clinical depression are:

So why do these make sense?

First things first, I think it's safe to say that depression causes sadness and that pretty much everyone knows about that sign of depression.  Well, almost all the other signs seem to stem from the sadness caused by depression.  So let's take a look at how:

Loss of energy- Have you ever cried for days, weeks, or months without a break?  Have you ever spent nearly every moment of your day trying to smile, trying to keep moving forward, trying to get normal things done, trying to stay afloat?  This is what it's like to have depression and it is exhausting.  Loss of energy is another way of describing the mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion that accompanies depression.

Impaired concentration- Depression is a mental illness; therefore, it impairs a person's ability to think normally.  For me, it is hard to concentrate when my mind is constantly being flooded with thoughts of negativity and sadness.  It's like trying to listen to soft music while the TV is blaring.  It takes so much effort to cast aside the thoughts that are so loud in my mind to be able to focus on what someone else is saying or what I am doing that I hardly concentrate on anything at all.  Also, when I was in school, I had a very difficult time concentrating on my homework when I really just wanted to go to bed and cry.  Evenings were especially difficult so trying to concentrate on homework was always a battle.

Indecisiveness- Since depression greatly affects a person's ability to feel things in a normal way, it becomes difficult to make decisions.  First, it's hard to make a decision when you can't think clearly about how it will affect you or those around you, and second, it often seems like the decision doesn't matter if you are just going to feel sad no matter what.  I also feel the added component of wanting to do what God wants me to do but feeling like I can't decipher what thoughts/feelings come from God, so it is difficult to decide what choices to make.

Lack of enjoyment in things that were once enjoyable- The sadness that comes with depression changes almost every other emotion into either sadness or indifference.  It's no wonder then that things that once brought joy now bring a lack of joy.  This is a huge sign for me.  I can tell that I am beginning to really struggle with depression when I have to fight with myself to do anything, especially things that I normally love, like playing the piano, doing crafts with my daughter, crocheting, sewing, etc.

Feelings of despair or hopelessness- When you feel sad for a long period of time, it can leave you feeling like things will never be normal again, you'll never feel happy, you'll never see the light of hope, you'll never enjoy life again.  Of course, those things aren't true, but they feel all too true while in the middle of a dark battle with depression.

Too much sleep- As I already said, depression causes a loss of energy AKA exhaustion, so it makes sense that someone who is exhausted would sleep more.  When I was really struggling, I would get tired and want to go to bed around 8 or 9 (I was also pregnant for part of that time), sleep until 7 in the morning, and take a nap for 1-2 hours during the day.  

Too little sleep- It might seem strange to have two opposite signs of depression but this one also makes sense.  If you are constantly being bombarded with awful thoughts, it can be hard to turn your mind off when it's time to get to sleep.  I remember several nights when I was crying and couldn't stop thinking about how awful I felt.  I couldn't turn off the anxiety, fear, sadness, or hopelessness to be able to fall asleep.  Sometimes I felt like I wanted to "solve" my problem before sleeping because I didn't want to have to wake up the next morning and fight it all over again.  Usually I would end up falling asleep after a few hours, but sometimes it would be 1 or 2 in the morning before the exhaustion would take over.  

Increased appetite- I haven't experienced this one myself, so I don't have much to say about it, except that I'm guessing that emotional eating plays a role.

Decreased appetite- When I feel depressed, I have such a hard time choosing what to eat, and nothing tastes good even if I put in the effort to make it, so I would rather not eat.  My appetite definitely decreases, because I can go a couple meals without eating and not feel very hungry at all.

Social isolation- I think this sign makes sense for several reasons. 1) A lot of people don't understand depression, so it's hard to want to be around people, when you might have to explain why you feel upset or why you don't feel like yourself.  Sometimes if I felt sad at church, I would go hide out in the bathroom for a while until I felt like I could keep my emotions under control.  I didn't want to have to explain myself, so I just avoided everyone who might see my tear-stained eyes.  2) Struggling with depression can feel like a shameful thing, so if people don't know you are struggling with depression, you might not want to be around them with the fear that they might "find out."  I have definitely felt this too and have taken it so far as to try to avoid family so that they won't "find out" about my struggles.  3) Due to the exhaustion of depression, it may feel too exhausting to get ready, get out of the house, and have fun with friends.  4) Finally, the lack of enjoyment of things that were once enjoyable makes going out to do things "pointless" if it won't bring joy.

Thoughts of suicide- This one goes hand-in-hand with the feelings of despair and hopelessness.  Struggling with depression for any period of time can cause someone to begin to feel like suicide is the only option to relieve the suffering or that all hope is lost in ever feeling better.  DO NOT BELIEVE IT!  Hope will come.  Hold on.  Tell someone if you are having thoughts of suicide.  Get help!

What thoughts or experiences would you add to this list?  Which signs are more prevalent in your battle with depression?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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