When you read a list of the common symptoms of depression, you might think everyone’s depressed. Each one sounds like something most if not all of us experience at one time or another. The common psychological symptoms of depression can include:
- Hopelessness, emptiness and/or sadness
- Low self-esteem
- Irritability and intolerance
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Withdrawing from family, friends and your normal activities and interests
- Anxiety and/or worry
- Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
People of all ages, from children to seniors, can experience symptoms of depression at times. It’s can be a normal part of life that results from dealing with stressors like a death in the family, a lost job, a physical ailment or relationship issues.
A Closer Look at the Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of depression can range in seriousness from mild and short-term to severe and persistent. Depression that results from stressors like those we mention above is often referred to as situational depression. The symptoms of situational depression often disappear over time as the person learns to cope with and adjust to the changes in his or her life.
Situational depression symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the seriousness of the stressor. For example, the sadness and emptiness that may follow the death of a parent will likely take longer to resolve than the depressive anxiety that might happen if you make a serious mistake at work.
In milder cases of situational depression, symptoms often disappear on their own once the situation passes or improves, like when a new work project comes along to take your focus away from the mistake you made on the last one.
Situational depression symptoms that persist for longer times or affect the sufferer more deeply may be signs of a Major Depressive Episode. In these cases, it may be best to become more proactive in finding ways to relieve the symptoms versus waiting for the symptoms to pass on their own.
Adopting a healthier lifestyle, talking to friends and family about the stressor and/or its symptoms, joining a support group, or even getting a diagnosis and the advice of a psychologist are just a few of the common ways that the more difficult symptoms of Major Depressive Episode can be addressed.
The Course of Depression
Sometimes the symptoms of depression can persist for extended periods and even become chronic. They can also seriously affect a person’s ability to work, interact with people or otherwise interfere with their daily life. And, instead of suffering just one or two symptoms, a person can experience several symptoms making it even more difficult to recover.
When depression causes these more severe, persistent and numerous symptoms, and is not necessarily triggered by a situation or event in the sufferer’s life, it may be considered a Major Depressive Disorder.
Managing and treating the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder is more complicated and involved than it is for milder or situational depression. Even so, it is believed that most cases of Major Depressive Disorders go undiagnosed. Anyone who suspects they suffer from Major Depressive Disorder can get a clinical assessment from a psychotherapist that will help confirm the existence of the condition. Treatments can include psychological counselling and psychotherapeutic treatment.
I am a certified solution-focused therapist, and I integrate a number of theoretical orientations into my practice including cognitive-behavioural, humanistic, psychodynamic, reality focused therapy. In essence, my experience and style have been dynamically moved into an eclectic approach that best seems to fit the client and their personal needs.