As humans we all have periods where we experience emotional ups and downs in our mood. Feeling sad is a normal reaction to some of life’s obstacles including unemployment, loss of a family member and other struggles. While feeling sad is normal, having prolonged feelings of sadness or inability to overcome grief is not normal.
Having extreme and prolonged feelings of sadness is defined as depression. Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don’t feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless.
Depression is different from normal sorrow because it overwhelms 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 extreme and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.
Some common symptoms of depression include:
Currently, no blood test can be used to diagnose depression. Depression is diagnosed based on your reported symptoms and in most cases a screening test. Based on your screening test scores, your medical history and your family medical history, doctors are better equipped to diagnose you accurately.
There are several medical conditions that can cause depression symptoms, such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, female hormonal changes and thyroid conditions. Also, several medications may have depression as a side-effect. If your doctor does not find any of these factors as a cause of your depression, you may then be referred to a mental health professional.
Your family doctor may feel comfortable prescribing you anti-depressant but he is not the best qualified physician to treat depression.
Some people may benefit from several trials of different medications to find one that best relieves their symptoms. Some will
need more than one medication to counteract side-effects or boost positive effects. Still others might benefit from adding psychotherapy to the mix. In addition, you may have a completely different disorder.
The most important thing to remember about seeking depression treatment is simply verbalizing your symptoms to a professional. Depression is not a sign of weakness or laziness; it is a sign that something is out of balance. With proper management, you can feel well again.