The term "depression" is reserved for prolonged disorders of mood which require professional help. It does not refer to normal discouragement that all people feel at times. Depression comes in all degrees of severity from mild (dysthymia) to major depression.
Adolescent depression is not just a stage of life but a treatable disorder. It is slightly different than adult depression. Use the Adolescent checklist if you are a teenager.
Depression: The Path to Recovery
Would you like to know more about depression and how mood disorders affect Christians?
Most cases of depression are mild. When symptoms are mild, most people ignore them and are never treated, leaving themselves chronically, emotionally disabled but unaware of it. Researchers estimate that at least six percent of the population are chronically unhappy, or in a state of mild depression. This state of mild depression has now been termed "Dysthymia." People with this form of depression are very susceptible to becoming severely depressed with advancing years or increasing stress. Fortunately, mild depression and dysthymia respond to the same treatments as severe depression.
You may be suffering from Dysthymia if the following symptoms apply to you:
You have suffered from a depressed mood most of the time for most days for at least two years with at least two of the following, and these symptoms have interfered with your social or work life.:
- poor appetite or overeating,
- insomnia or oversleeping,
- low energy, always tired,
- low self esteem,
- poor concentration and difficulty making decisions,
- feelings of hopelessness;
Depression has a very wide variety of symptoms and each individual shows a different pattern. Generally speaking, these people usually have been sad for prolonged periods without obvious cause. The onset of depressive symptoms is usually very slow and insidious so a person doesn't realize that they are slowly sliding into depression. They just gradually adjust to an ever-worsening mood and assume that they are reacting normally to life's circumstances. Depression usually comes on in the teen years and lasts for so long that the symptoms become "normal" to you.
You may be suffering from Depression if the following symptoms apply to you:
You have found that you have gradually begun to slip into these symptoms and you suffer from many of them most of the time, on most days.
- You have persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" moods.
- You suffer from feelings of hopelessness, pessimism and low self-esteem.
- You feel guilty and worthless.
- You have lost interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed, including sex.
- Your sleep patterns are disrupted. You have insomnia, wake early in the morning, or have been oversleeping.
- Your eating habits have changed. You have a loss of appetite or have started overeating. You've noticed a weight loss or weight gain.
- You seem to have decreased energy, feelings of fatigue, a "slowed down" feeling, or agitation that you can't control.
- Simple tasks seem harder and you've started procrastinating.
- You've had constant feelings of "life isn't worth living like this," thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts.
- You feel restless, irritable, bad tempered, never relaxed or content.
- You've had difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions. Your mind is hindered by a persistent, uncontrollable cluttering of down, sad, negative thoughts that you can't keep out.
- You have had persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
- You suffer from continuous anxiety that can't be turned off. You worry uncontrollably about small things (such as your physical health).
- You are having difficulty making small talk and have started to isolate yourself socially or have withdrawn from your peers.
- Your family has a history of members with depression, alcoholism or nervous breakdowns.
- In children, you should look for increased irritability, persistent complaints of physical problems, agitation, unwarranted anxiety, panic, or social withdrawal.
What do I do next?
If you see yourself in the symptoms above then you need to print this list out, underline all your symptoms and take it to your doctor and then your counsellor. It will give them both a summary of what you are experiencing so they can create a treatment plan.