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Friday, June 4, 2010

Characteristics of Depression

Depression is more than having a bad day from time to time or feeling sad. Genetics, life events, hormones, and even medications can all cause or contribute to depression. Depression plays out differently for each person. However, there are some common characteristics that help identify an episode of depression.

Emotional Characteristics
The primary symptom of depression is having feelings of sadness or unhappiness. For some patients, these feelings last for days or even weeks, and nothing appears to help. Over time, these emotions may turn into feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of suicide. Episodic or unexpected crying may occur. Some patients experience a fluctuation in moods, becoming irritable of frustrated quickly.

Changes in Normal Functioning
One of the best indicators of depression is a change in functioning, particularly in multiple settings. For example, many depression sufferers find it difficult to function well at home, work or school. Performance or functioning in these areas typically decreases and is noticeable to both the sufferer and those around him. Some patients experience a lack of interest in pleasurable or normal activities as well as a reduction in sex drive. Some patients find it difficult to get out of bed, bathe or get dressed. If depression is impacting performance at work, it can be beneficial to take some time off to try and address what may be causing the depression or to just relax.

Physical Characteristics
Patients suffering from depression often experience various physical symptoms that appear to have no known medical source. Back pain and headaches are common complaints. Some patients report feeling tired and exhausted most of the time, no matter how much sleep or rest they get. It can be difficult to concentrate, and in extreme cases, motor functions and body movements become slower.

Changes in Eating Habits
It is not uncommon for depression sufferers to experience changes in eating habits. Some patients find that they tend to eat more when depressed, or they eat more foods that are high in fat and sugar. Other patients lose their appetite or eat less frequently.

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