Chances are you have interacted with someone who is living with depression – at work. At church, at school, or even the grocery store. Do you know what depression looks like or how to recognize it?
Depression Is Common
According to the World Health Organization, there has been a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022 alone, we have heard of several people who have died by suicide. Some of these people appeared to be successful on the inside and had good family support systems. Think of the beloved Naomi Judd: She was a singer, had a loving husband, and loving children, and yet she struggled with depression so severe that it impacted her physically. Many wonder how a person could be doing so well on the outside but struggle with depression.
Misconceptions About Depression
One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve heard about those who are depressed is that they are seeking attention. A second misconception I’ve heard about those who have died by suicide is that they are selfish. These common misconceptions are some of the primary reasons why people choose not to get help. When I think of the people I have interacted with on a personal or professional level who were depressed or died by suicide, they were struggling. These people reached a level of hopelessness that they did not think that they were able to recover from. These were people who appeared to be doing well on the surface. They were some of the most thoughtful and considerate people. However, they had an inner struggle that they could not overcome.
In January 2022, we learned of the tragic suicide of Chelsie Kryst. Her family reported that she had been dealing with depression for years. You might wonder, how could that be? She was beautiful, always dressed so well, articulate, intelligent, successful in the eyes of others, and had a great friend network and family support system. On the outside, Ms Kryst did not appear depressed but she reportedly struggled with the condition. Prior to her death, in 2021, Ms Kryst published an article where she expressed thoughts of not measuring up in spite of all of her accomplishments.
Contrary to popular belief, depression does not have a look. But, people who have depression do have certain symptoms. According to Diagnostic Statistical Manual, some common symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood: A person who is depressed continues to feel and express sadness, anxiety, and emptiness day after day. No “word of encouragement” can lift or help to change their mood.
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism: According to Dr. Burns of “Feeling Good”, a person who is depressed gets “frozen in the pain of the present moment”, “forget entirely that you ever felt better in the past” and “find it inconceivable that you might feel more positive in the future.” Generally speaking, a person who is depressed is not able to “think” beyond their present situation.
- Irritability: A person who is depressed might appear to be annoyed by you or have a difficult time relaxing. They might even appear to have “anger issues” in the eyes of their friends, coworkers, partner, or other family relationships.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness: A person might struggle with feeling that they have let others down or are a failure.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities: A person who is depressed might lose interest in things that they once wanted to do.
- Decreased energy or fatigue: A person who is depressed might feel tired and lack energy.
- Moving or talking more slowly: A person who is struggling with depression might talk or move slower than normal.
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still: A person who is struggling with depression might have a difficult time doing nothing. They might feel the need to be busy.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions: A person who is depressed might have a difficult time staying focused, might be forgetful, or have a difficult time making decisions.
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping: A person who is depressed might struggle with getting adequate sleep. They might sleep all day, have interruptions through the night or not sleep at all.
- Appetite and/or weight changes: A person who is depressed might want to eat everything in sight or nothing at all.
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment: A lot of time there is this misconception that if a person is depressed, it is only something that impacts them mentally. But a person can also display symptoms of depression in their physical body.
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts: A person who is depressed sometimes has thoughts of wanting to die or that have even had an attempt to end their life.*
*If you or someone who you know is talking about wanting to end their life, you need to call 911 or take that person to the nearest emergency room so that they can be evaluated. The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides free, confidential support 24/7 when you dial 9-8-8. It is important that if you are displaying symptoms of depression that you speak with your primary care provider to rule out any medical causes.
These are just some symptoms of depression and not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. But if you notice that you have experienced some of these symptoms, you might want to reach out for support. Depression impacts a person cognitively and physically. When it comes to identifying if a person is depressed, it is important to identify the length of time that a person has displayed the above symptoms. Similar to Chelsie Kryst, a person who is depressed is still able to function in all areas of their life.
Types of Depression
Chelsie Kryst was identified as having “High Functioning Depression” but according to Diagnostic Statistical Manual, there is no such diagnosis. Research shows that when it comes to Depression, the condition exists on a “continuum” and as a result, it looks different for everyone.
According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, there are some common types of depression:
- Major Depressive Disorder (including major depressive episode): A person with major depressive disorder has persistent sadness and a significant impact in areas of their life. A person’s sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, and self-esteem is impacted. This is the most common type of depression.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia): A person has a low mood for at least two years and has a loss of interest in activities, low self-esteem, low appetite, sleep changes, and poor concentration.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: This is a condition in women in which there is a significant shift in their mood about a week before their menstrual cycle and resolves when the menstrual cycle starts. Some symptoms might include extreme sadness, hopelessness, irritability, or anger, plus common premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as breast tenderness and bloating.
- Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: This condition is present in children only. A child who has DMDD will have frequent temper outbursts or chronic, persistent irritability or angry mood.
If you think that you or someone you know is depressed, you do not have to struggle in silence. Please know that there is help available for you and others. Garrett Counseling has trained therapists with experience in providing counseling services to children, adolescents, and adults who are exhibiting symptoms of depression. Reach out to Garrett Counseling at (256) 239-5662 or online!
If you are looking for more information about depression, you might find these articles helpful:
- How Does Depression Affect Teens?
- What Are Symptoms of Depression In Children & Teens?
- What Are Symptoms of Depression In Adults?
This article was written by LaTasha Toney, a telehealth mental health professional at Garrett Counseling. Learn more about LaTasha here.