What is depression?
Everyone experiences highs and lows in moods. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles and disappointments. Feeling sad is a normal reaction to negative experiences in life, but depression is much more than this.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 can be different for everyone, but there are some common signs of the disease. 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. It is time to consult with a professional if the symptoms are overwhelming.
Common signs and symptoms of depression:
- A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Everything is exhausting and tasks seem impossible to take on
- Concentration problems.
- Sleep changes: Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
- Irritability or restlessness
- Feeling agitated, restless, or on edge-Loss of energy.-Appetite or weight changes
- a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month-Loss of self esteem
- Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes
- Unexplained physical discomfort
- An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain. -Your tolerance level is low; everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Trouble focusing, remembering or making decisions.-No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
Older adults and depression:
Many older adults face life changes such as bereavement, loss of independence, and health problems which can lead to depression, especially in those without a strong support system. Family caregivers need to be alert; and if many of the the symptoms of depression are evident, seek help for their care recipient. Emotional health should be cared for in addition to the physical challenges they are facing. Older adults might complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression, and so the problem often goes unrecognized.
The family caregiver must also be aware that the daily stress of caring for another can be overwhelming enough to lead to exhibiting signs of depression themselves. They, too, need a support system and could possibly require professional advice.