Clinical depression can manifest itself in as many different ways as there are different sufferers, but a low, miserable, hopeless mood and/or an inability to find enjoyment in simple, pleasurable activities will have been present for two weeks or more in those suffering clinical depression. Where one or both of these symptoms are present, clinical depression will be the first consideration for a diagnosis, and further investigation will be made into other symptoms.
To feel confident that the patient is suffering from depression, and not another psychological condition, medical professionals will usually want to ascertain that some of the following symptoms are also present. These include emotional numbness or a sense of emptiness, a fixation with death – and not a fear of dying and feelings of guilt, shame, fear or anxiousness. Clinical depression can also manifest itself in insomnia or hypersomnia, an increase or decrease in appetite or weight, an inability to concentrate on a task, loss of energy and a difficulty in thinking or processing information.
We can expect depression to have different effects on different people, but there are numerous common symptoms that can alert loved ones to the suffering of a depressive family member or friend. Many depressives suffer self-loathing or lack of self-esteem, a sensitivity to light and sound and non-specific physical pains. Some may also experience an alteration in perception of time.
Depression in very young children is not so common, but where it does occur it is often difficult to diagnose. Parents concerned about their children may notice a loss of appetite; insomnia, hypersomnia or nightmares; sudden, extreme behaviour or emotional changes; or difficulties with thinking, remembering or processing new information.
It can be extremely difficult for people who have not suffered with depression themselves – or spent significant time with others who do suffer with the condition – to recognize the condition, and understand the severity of its impact. It is important for those with a depressed loved one – or those who believe they may have a depressed loved one – to familiarize themselves with the various symptoms of the condition.
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