Things have been a little quite around here in spite of my plans and promises. I’ve been depressed lately. That’s not really unusual, since I have experienced constant, low-level depression since childhood. Lately, however, it’s been almost completely disabling. There’s my explaination ~ but what I’d really like you to know is something that may help you or a loved one in the future.
How could someone familiar with clinical depression not realize that it is a severe episode of depression that is preventing her from accomplishing anything?
A few years ago I had a severe and long bout of depression. It gave me an excellent opportunity to study how severe depression feels!
This recent bout was not quite as disabling, but nearly so. However, this time I experienced no noticeable sadness, and did not have the feelings of hopelessness and of intense pain and suffering that I would normally associate with severe depression. I also had very little anxiety. I was more or less happy (for me) and my main frustration was not being able to accomplish anything or not being capable of doing anything complicated (which, in this state of mind, was pretty much anything!). I knew I was “a little down” but simply didn’t realize that is was actually a bad case of depression.
Depression is sneaky. It doesn’t necessarily involve sadness or crying, although those are typical symtoms. That’s one thing I wanted you to know. The other thing, which I just recently grasped, is that depression is sneaky even for an individual who has experienced depression enough that they think they ought to recognize, in themselves, the symtoms of disabling depression.
I knew about the sadness, hopelessness, and mental pain. I knew about feelings of pointlessness and emptiness. What I didn’t realize is that I could have a disabling level of depression without any of those symtoms.
Here are some other symtoms of depression (some of which I experienced recently and some of which I didn’t) that might go unnoticed:
- Loss of interest in things around one (this does not have to be complete).
- Inability to experience pleasure (may be complete inability or just a reduction in ability).
- Chronic fatigue.
- Insomnia or excessive sleep.
- Increased or decreased appetite.
- Headaches, backaches, or digestive disturbances.
- Irritability, getting angry quickly.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies.
- Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.
I don’t recall seeing these listed anywhere as symptoms, specifically, but I have noticed them myself:
- Dulled emotions. Strained emotions, unusual or inaccurate emotional reactions.
- Changes in sleep/wake routine.
- Hypersensitivity (mentally and emotionally ~ but can be physically too, I think.)
- Feelings of being overwhelmed.
- Being overwhelmed by simple things and finding them very complicated.
- Difficulty making decisions or solving problems.
- Difficulty doing anything that previously was easy to do.
- Poor memory.
- Mental dullness, inability to think clearly.
- A general lack of peace and inability to rest mentally.
- Noticing that things don’t have meaning that you know should have meaning.
- Negative feelings associated with something you know should affect you positively. That is, you feel mental/emotional pain or discomfort associated with something that would normally bring a person pleasure or comfort (this has to do with the inability to experience pleasure, I’m sure).
- Boredom even (and especially) when you can think of things to do that you would normally enjoy doing.
- A general inability to function (in general and mentally) at full capacity.
I have also noticed when I am depressed that unless I am very severely depressed I still laugh and have a sense of humor. This might not be the case with everyone but it’s one of the things to watch for.
Remember, depression is sneaky!
I hope my experiences will be helpful to someone. If I can be “tricked” by depression I know you can too!