Beyond just feeling blue, severe depression can completely take over a person and cause other major health problems – even death. Severe depression is characterized by an inability to enjoy life or take pleasure in normal fun activities. It can debilitate every aspect of your life from your health to your job to your relationships with family and friends.
Unfortunately, only about a third of all people suffering from depression seek treatment. Outdated stereotypes of mental illness may be to blame, as well as gender issues – men are less likely to seek help for depression than women.
Recognizing the signs of severe depression will help you help yourself if you suffer from it and also may help you help others who may suffer from depression. Look for these following tell-tale signs of depression and seek help immediately if any or all of these manifest.
1. Chronic feelings of “the blues.” Do you feel down all the time, even when you should feel happy? The difference between normal, or situational, depression and clinical depression (the kind that needs medical attention) is that situational depression is associated with specific events in one’s life, such as the death of a loved one, a break-up of a relationship or a bout with substance abuse and clinical depression stays with a person for no apparent reason. If you or someone you know has down feelings without apparent cause, seek professional help.
2. Sleep disorders. One of the signs of severe depression that is easy to recognize is a deteriorating sleep pattern. When people suffer from severe depression, they will often begin to oversleep or want to stay in bed all day. But because not all people are the same, the opposite is also true. Depressed people will also stay awake and not sleep enough. These conditions get worse as the depression gets more and more severe.
3. Eating disorders. A severely depressed person will also develop eating disorders. Some will barely touch their food and begin to eat less and less and the depression grows. Others will react in the exact opposite and begin eating more and more. If you notice yourself or a loved one getting to skinny or too fat, seek help immediately so it can be determined whether you are depressed or if you are suffering from other problem causing the eating disorder.
4. Fluctuations of your energy level. Are you suddenly sluggish and slowed-down? Or perhaps you feel high-strung all the time? If your daily energy level seems unstable in any way, this is a sign of severe depression and it is one that you may notice most at work. If you are unable to complete ordinary tasks that you were able to do easily before, or if you are wired all the time to the point of distraction at work, these are strong indicators that you may be suffering from depression.
5. Self-loathing thoughts. When people suffer from severe depression, they begin to see faults in everything they do. They are unfairly critical to themselves and are unable to forgive themselves for their faults. This can lead to even darker thoughts of suicide. If you feel these thoughts about yourself and especially if you have thought of ways to end your life, seek immediate help.