There are a lot of stereotypes and incorrect ideas of what Depression really is. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s something to think about.
There is this common belief that people have to meet “all the requirements” of Depression to be depressed. This just isn’t true. The commonly accepted symptoms of Major Depression are:
- Depressed mood most of the day.
- Diminished interest or pleasure in all or most activities.
- Significant unintentional weight loss or gain.
- Insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Agitation or psychomotor retardation noticed by others.
- Fatigue or loss of energy.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
- Recurrent thoughts of death.
Not everyone experiences all of these symptoms. Some people have different symptoms at different times, making it harder to diagnose. Some symptoms are misinterpreted as well, which can further confuse the matter. I’ll break down the ways each symptom shows itself to me. Remember, your mileage may vary, and that my experience is decidedly not “textbook” since I have many other complicating factors.
For depressed mood, there are any number of things that show up. Crying, apathy, feelings of not being a part of things, any number of ways, really.
Diminished interest is a bitch. The thing is, you don’t know if your interests have changed, or if you are just depressed. Do I want to paint? Do I want to garden? Do I want to crochet, or knit? I dunno. Maybe I’m depressed. I try to make myself do fun things anyway, and I just end up resenting it all, which makes me want to do things even less.
Unintentional weight loss is a real wrench in things. If I want to lose weight, is it a problem? If I’m just not hungry because I’m depressed, what the hell is wrong with that? People would kill to lose 55 pounds in a year. Then again, my doctor is asking me what the hell I’m doing to myself, while my fiance can’t keep her hands off of me. It’s very confusing all the way around.
Insomnia and sleeping too much… Where to start? Some days, I just can’t make myself get out of bed. Most nights, I’m up between 2 and 6 times. I mostly blame the sleeping late on the waking up, but both things are the depression. My body is just plain confused.
Agitation, or psycho-motor retardation… This one is an off-and-on one for me. Sometimes, I just can’t hold my fingers still. Literally, they just shake and shiver for hours at a time. I can’t hold a pen, or a brush, or my pills. I try to drink, and spill down my front. I can’t type as well, so I spend half my time deleting things I’ve already typed three times. Sometimes, I nod, as if I had Parkinson’s. I can stop it if I think about it, but as soon as I stop trying to hold still, my head starts gently bobbing along. Bleh.
Fatigue, or loss of energy. I’ve already written about energy swings, and how it’s not always a mood thing. Sometimes, though, it is, and you just don’t realize it. You slept too much, or too little, you’re not interested in much, so of course it’s easy to feel lethargic, or like you don’t want to do anything. It’s an easy thing to dismiss, especially when it takes away the energy that helps you identify it.
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt. Welcome to crazytown, population: me. This is a hard one for me to put together sometimes, because my flashbacks are often tied up in it. One can trigger the other, and there is nothing but a thin grey line between them. I feel like I am taking the air other people can be breathing. I feel like I’m in the way, and I literally hide in the corner at parties. I feel like I’m a burden on everyone who tries to talk to me, because I’m not terribly able to talk coherently. Probably because I’m depressed, and don’t realize it. It’s also probable that my anxiety gets in there as well.
Diminished thinking, or indecisiveness. See above, and below. It’s hard to write, hard to talk. I never know what I should say, so I say too much, or too little. This runs into my infamous inability to be appropriate. This is where I make most of my mistakes, and cause much of the unreal guilt as referenced above.
Recurring thoughts of death. This is one of my favorites. What constitutes recurring thoughts of death? I obsess over the plants dying. Is that it? I think the cats are sick all the time. Does that count? When I write letters to my loved ones in the middle of a panic attack, does that count? It all does, according to my therapist. Obsession over death of any kind, for any reason, counts. End of point.
Of course, if you have few enough of these symptoms that you think you don’t have “clinical” depression (better known as mild, moderate, or severe depression), remember that there are other depressive disorders, such as Persistent Depressive Disorder, which is different, in its own ways.
Depression affects us all differently. Much of the world deals with it, in themselves or others. It’s important to become informed, and to pay attention to both yourself, and your loved ones. You matter, and so do they. Depression is a liar. It drains you. Sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. There are ways to fight, and the first way is to recognize that something isn’t right. After that, it’s up to you.
Take care of yourselves, take care of each other.
On a related note, I’m depressed as shit. Sorry if this post is complete crap, the Jailor says I should figuratively tear it all up and put it in the garbage. I can only try to ignore hen and hope you all don’t hate it. Have a good one, all. I’ll muddle through. Now, where did I put those Oreos?