Today’s topic is a more serious one. However, it is also one of the most crucial subjects regarding mental health to talk about. Depression is not simply feeling sad. Depression is a serious mental health condition that causes persistent and debilitating feelings of sadness and hopelessness that manifests itself in many different symptoms. Knowing how to recognize these symptoms—both in other people and yourself—is imperative to ensure each person receives the help and attention they need. That being said, we at Heads Up Teens want to emphasize that we are NOT a professional source of information and should not serve as a replacement for professional therapy like that of a psychiatrist. Instead, we encourage you to use our page as a source of consistent support and education surrounding mental health to learn more about the subject and how you can help yourself and others.
A part of what makes Depression a perplexing disorder is its uniqueness to each individual- causes, symptoms, appropriate treatment methods, etc. There are no universal causes, set of symptoms, or treatment methods, but there are general patterns that are imperative to know by heart.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Depression is characterized by persistent (approx. 2 weeks) occurrences of some of the following symptoms for “most of the day”:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
It is important to note that not everyone will experience every single symptom and that symptoms can vary in severity. If you are checking off many of these symptoms on a consistent basis, use this as a reminder to reach out to a mental health professional to receive a professional diagnosis.
However, there are also many hidden symptoms of Depression. What do I mean by this? I’m talking about the symptoms that are not clinically defined, seen as “non-traditional”, and harder to identify, both in yourself and others. According to the @realdepressionproject, here are ten to be on the lookout for:
- Trying extra hard to make others feel happy because you’re unable to feel anything but numb
- Leaving the TV on (all night) to drown out any negative thoughts that surface
- Texting “I’m okay” when in the middle of a depressive episode
- Neglecting hygiene for days (ex. Not showering for multiple days or changing clothes)
- Practicing saying “I’m okay” and faking a smile in front of a mirror hours before a social event
- Using all your energy and focus to appear “fine” at work but collapsing with exhaustion at home
- Keeping conversations surface level because anything “deeper” may lead to you breaking down
- Looking over old photos and memories and grieving for the life that was “before depression”
- Putting on extra makeup on your dark days to almost “kid yourself” (and others) that things are okay
- Working late nights to distract yourself from your suffering
Some of these may surprise you, but they’re all related to one common theme: faking happiness to yourself and others. Even the seemingly happiest of people may be silently suffering from depression, which is why it is so crucial that we are all constantly checking in with one another and as a society, encouraging the education, active discussion, and acceptance of mental health. If you observe these clinical and hidden symptoms in yourself and others, actively seek out help from a professional service by asking trusted friends and family for references or simply doing a google search. Take care everyone!
The National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, February). Depression. Retrieved July 17, 2020, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/