Not all depressions are alike. The nature of one’s depression depends on the cause and on each person’s individual adaptation to this disorder. Here are several generally recognized forms of depression.
A major depression is different from a state of normal sadness. People who experience depression describe it as agonizing pain that cannot be shaken and seems to have no end in sight. They feel trapped and often talk about having a dark empty pit in their chest or stomach that cannot be filled. Some depressed people contemplate suicide. Virtually all people with depression complain about reduced energy, reduced concentration, and the inability to complete projects. About eighty percent of depressed people say they have trouble sleeping, with frequent nighttime awakening during which they worry about their problems. Many people with depression oversleep during the daytime. Many people with this disorder report that they have had either an increase or a decrease in their appetite, sometimes accompanied by weight gain or loss. About fifty percent of people with depression say that their symptoms are worse in the morning and that they feel a bit better by evening. Half of all people with depression report only one severe episode within their lifetimes, but the remainder may have this happen twice, or repeatedly, during their lives.
- Here are some symptoms of major depression
- Diminished ability to enjoy oneself
- Loss of energy and interest
- Difficulty concentrating; slowed or fuzzy thinking; indecision
- Magnified feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or anxiety
- Decreased or increased sleep and/or appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- Recurring thoughts of death
Another common form of the depressive disorder is called dysthymia. This involves having chronic, long-lasting symptoms of depression, which are not disabling but prevent a person from functioning at top capacity or from feeling good. Women experience dysthymia about twice as often as men, and it is also found in those who lack a relationship and in those who are young or with few resources (such as a low income or few social contacts). The primary symptoms of dysthymia (which means “bad humored”) include a depressed mood, a feeling of being down in the dumps, and a lack of interest in usual activities for at least two years. People with dysthymia can experience any of the symptoms of major depression, but usually not to the degree that may be found in a full-blown depression. Dysthymic people, though, are vulnerable to moving into a major depression during times of stress or crisis. Dysthymia often leads to a life without much pleasure, and many people with this condition feel that it is simply a part of their personality so that they never seek treatment.
Symptoms of dysthymia include –
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Insomnia (lack of sleep) or hypersomnia (oversleeping)
- Low self-esteem
- Poor concentration or difficulty making decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Fatigue or low energy