How to distinguish temporary melancholy from a dangerous illness.
If you list the possible symptoms of depression, there are hundreds of them, because almost any discomfort in the body or change in the psyche can be its manifestation.
We took the most common symptoms and grouped them into nine groups. They partly replicate the Hamilton Depression Scale, a template questionnaire that psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and general practitioners can use to identify depression. This scale contains a minimum of standard questions that help the doctor not to forget anything and collect as much information as possible.
Remember that the most accurate way to rule out depression is to talk to a psychiatrist or therapist.
Here is a list of signs that can be suspected of depression.
1 Depressed mood lasts longer than two weeks
Anyone can be in a bad, depressed mood — get off on the wrong foot, get very upset because of work or personal life. And it just so happens that in everyday life, a bad mood for a few hours or days can be called “depression”. There’s no mistake about it, we’re just so used to it.
If a bad mood lasts two weeks or longer, then it may be part of depression as a disease. This condition will not go away on its own and requires the help of specialists. This criterion can be found in the document according to which all doctors of the world work — ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision). ICD-10 summarizes the results of international medical research and recommends a list of criteria that can be used to make a diagnosis for any disorder. A period of two weeks is one of the main signs of clinical depression.
Can depression develop faster? Of course, if a person has other pronounced symptoms (suicidal tendencies, refusal to eat, obsessive thoughts about their own sinfulness), the doctor will not wait two weeks to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment. With serious symptoms, the doctor must immediately save the person, and the diagnosis, in fact, is not very important.
The mood in depression is more depressed than sad. A person slows down, becomes less energetic, and can’t find the strength to work and have fun. They may feel sad and cry more often, but depression and desolation are more common symptoms.
A person may feel sad and cry more often, but depression and desolation are more common symptoms.
2 There is nothing to cheer you up about
A characteristic symptom of depression is a bad mood and the inability to have fun and have fun (anhedonia). The jokes of others bring a sour face and forced, polite laughter; your favorite needlework is covered with dust, your gym membership burns down, and an evening with friends turns into endless torture.
Everything that previously caused sharp and pleasant emotions becomes uninteresting and physically unbearable, so only the most necessary things remain in life — work and minimal everyday life.
Your favorite needlework gets covered in dust, your gym membership burns down, and an evening with friends turns into endless torture.
3 It becomes difficult to work and keep concentration, and fatigue sets in quickly
On the one hand, motivation and interest are lost. On the other hand, it also becomes physically difficult to move and think.
A depressed person thinks for a long time, finds it difficult to make a decision, and needs more time to remember or understand something. Talking is difficult, and speech is constantly interrupted by long pauses.
When you’re depressed, you don’t have to hold conferences or unload trucks to feel tired and overwhelmed. Severe fatigue comes from normal activities — working at the computer for several hours, cleaning the house. After a minimal load, the arms and legs are filled with lead, the muscles ache, the head splits. We have to take breaks for rest, although previously it was possible to calmly “plow” for days.
We have to take breaks for rest, although previously it was possible to calmly “plow” for days.
4 Increases self-criticism, torments a strong sense of guilt
When a person is tired and ready to lie down after a couple of hours of work, he is unlikely to think that this is a disease. First of all, he will think about laziness, procrastination, lack of discipline, maximum-about fatigue and burnout. Their performance will continue to decline, but instead of resting and being treated by a doctor, they will probably choose to work until they are exhausted and reproach themselves for not working hard enough. Heightened self-criticism, increased demands on yourself — these are also symptoms of depression.
A strong sense of guilt may extend to past events (“I could have done something different a few years ago”), a sense of sinfulness may appear, a belief that current problems are a punishment, a “karmic return” for past misdeeds..
5 I don’t want to live
Depression affects not only the mood, but also the instinct for self-preservation. When nothing brings pleasure, and any movement is given through force, you can begin to doubt-is it worth living at all? Should I take care of myself and move on?
A person does not immediately come up with thoughts about quitting life. They may reflect that life is meaningless, experience deep pessimism about the future, consume alcohol in dangerous amounts, and cause cuts and other injuries to themselves.
If you think about suicide, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, it is better to call an ambulance.
If you think about suicide, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, it is better to call an ambulance.
6 Have trouble sleeping
Depression is characterized by various sleep problems, which are called insomnia. Doctors distinguish three types of insomnia — early, medium and late.
With early insomnia, it is not possible to fall asleep immediately. If a person is constantly “tossing and turning” for half an hour or longer, this can be a sign of depression.
Average insomnia is said to occur if a person sleeps restlessly, wakes up at night and then can’t fall asleep for a long time. Single wake-ups for going to the bathroom don’t count.
Late insomnia means waking up much earlier than the alarm clock. People with depression may wake up at five or six in the morning with the feeling that they did not sleep a wink at night. Sleep no longer comes, and the person starts the day tired and broken.
7 Heart, head, stomach aches regularly
For some people, psychosomatics comes to the fore. This means that a bad mood or depression, anxiety, stress disrupt the work of internal organs, and a person first of all pays attention to problems with physical health. At the same time, he can evaluate his mood as “normal”.
How to distinguish psychosomatic disorders from gastritis or heart problems? First, in psychosomatics, the results of tests and instrumental studies are within the normal range; the therapist (gastroenterologist, neurologist, endocrinologist) does not find violations. Second, symptoms appear or worsen after stress. Finally, real relief comes only when a person begins treatment for both depression-reducing stress levels with medication (antidepressants) and psychotherapy. Painkillers and other medications have a short-term effect.
How many internal organs and systems — there can be so many violations:
Digestion and excretion: dry mouth, flatulence, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, belching, frequent urination.
Heart: rapid heartbeat, chest pain.
Breathing: rapid breathing, lack of air, difficulty breathing (dyspnea).
Nervous and endocrine system: headache, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), blurred vision, tremor (trembling in the limbs), alternating sensation of hot and cold, sweating.
Psychosomatics is considered a problem if it causes regular discomfort. It’s one thing when your head or stomach hurts rarely-before a very important exam or meeting. Another thing is when this happens several times a day from the slightest stimulus.
It’s one thing when your head or stomach hurts rarely-before a very important exam or meeting. Another thing is when this happens several times a day from the slightest stimulus.
8 Interest in sex decreases or disappears
A person ceases to get pleasure, including from sex, to which interest decreases. A person can determine this decrease subjectively, relative to the attraction that he experienced earlier. The attraction may decrease, or it may disappear altogether.
9 Don’t feel hungry or can’t get enough
Depending on the” shade ” of bad mood, the appetite may decrease or increase relative to the level that a person had before depression.
If the appetite decreases, it becomes difficult to finish your usual portion to the end, there is a desire to skip one of the meals. A person can continue to eat for the company of their loved ones, so as not to disturb them. But if he is left alone — he will not eat, because he is not hungry.
“Eating stress” is the opposite state, when the appetite increases or comes not while eating, but when you are bored or have increased anxiety. A person with depression stops eating not when they are full, but when they feel a strong heaviness in their stomach, or when they run out of food in the refrigerator.
I’ve seen the same signs in articles about neurasthenia gravis, schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. How is this possible?
Most of the signs and symptoms are really the same for different diseases. There are several points here.
Some of the symptoms are universal, they appear in any disease. Fever and headache can be signs of a mild cold, flu, recurrent herpesvirus infection, and a dozen other diseases. The same goes for increased fatigue, bad mood, and other signs that we have listed. Therefore, first of all, it is important to suspect a disorder, and a specific diagnosis should be made together with the doctor.
There are diseases that some scientists and doctors consider two facets of the same whole. For example, there is an opinion that neurasthenia (asthenic neurosis, increased fatigue) is a latent depression. This is confirmed by the fact that neurasthenia and depression are treated with the same medications. In this case, it is not so important what the name of the disease is, it is important to detect and treat it.
Therefore, first of all, it is important to suspect a disorder, and a specific diagnosis should be made together with the doctor.
When a doctor works on a diagnosis, they not only look for specific symptoms, but also look at their combinations and order of occurrence. For example, if after a few months of depression, your mood suddenly rises to an unusually energetic, cheerful, and productive state, this may indicate bipolar disorder. If a depressed mood is combined with thoughts that the person is being stalked, watched, or manipulated, this may be a sign of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. There are a lot of such nuances. To understand them, you need to read proven medical sources – textbooks on psychiatry and ICD-10. A faster and more reliable option is to see a doctor.
I noticed a few signs from this article. What should I do next?
Only a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist (not a psychologist) can confirm or deny the diagnosis of “depression”, so you should contact them for an examination and recommendations for treatment.