We learn to recognize the symptoms of depression
Knowing how to recognize the symptoms of depression, or the manifestations, of an unhealthy psychophysical condition such as depression is of fundamental if not indispensable importance, both for the purposes of diagnosis and prognosis.
In this way, in fact, it is possible to give a name to moods, emotions and behaviors that often frighten and worry us, in order to be able to collect them and so that they do not take over our life.
Furthermore, we must always remember that diagnoses are categories, labels that have a goal, which is often communication with others.
We often hear that “expressing your emotions” is useful and healthy. Expressing is in fact synonymous with communicating.
The diagnosis therefore serves to communicate our malaise with others.
Secondly, the recognition of symptoms is a first and important step towards a path of awareness, processing and redemption from conditions that can control us, and that instead we can learn to control.
What we know, what we give a name to, we are no longer so afraid of.
The term depression is widely used in common language to describe very broad symptom pictures, which can range from the emotion of sadness to despair, lack of hope and self-confidence, passing through apathy.
Therefore it is also important to distinguish this general use of the term from diagnoses defined by internationally recognized manuals such as the DSM-5 and ICD-10 , which refer to clinical conditions.
Having said this, I will move on to describe the major symptoms of depression:
- Poor concentration and memory, loss or lack of interest can be counted among the cognitive symptoms, palpitations, cramps, dry mouth, excessive sweating, nausea among the biological ones;
- Physiological disorders such as problems with the sleep cycle and nutrition, problems of the sexual sphere, muscle pain, orthopedic, loss or lack of energy and tone, exhaustion;
- On an emotional level, we may experience feelings of worthlessness or guilt, irritability and tension, difficulty making decisions, feelings of failure, thoughts of death or thoughts and behaviors of self-harm, social withdrawal.
Possible factors of depression
All of the above is important only if combined with the analysis of the other spheres of an individual’s life such as family, work, social in general. Depression, in fact, is also expressed through relational difficulties.
Sometimes individuals with depression can risk losing their jobs, the support network of friends and family.
Another important discriminant to be able to recognize depression is the differential diagnosis, or “what is not depression”, which, among other things, allows us not to neglect other possible conditions of suffering.
Some personality traits such as pessimism or low self-esteem can be risk factors but are not in themselves symptoms of depression.
From a biochemical point of view, I always ask my patients who describe themselves as “depressed” or who require my intervention for a depressive state of mind, if they have recently undergone medical examinations to be able to exclude changes in substances and their behavior at physical level.
External traumatic events such as bereavement, violence, catastrophes, wars, etc. .. do not a priori represent a predictor of depression, each individual faces these situations in a unique way, with their own time and resources.
There are also specific conditions
These conditions can be related, but not superimposable:
- peripartum depression, and for this reason the phase of life in which the symptoms occur is taken into consideration;
- seasonal affective disorders, for which specific attention is paid to the duration and period in which the symptoms occur;
- bipolar disorder.
It is also essential to mention that almost always and more and more, symptoms of anxiety are found in conjunction with those of depression.
For further information on the symptoms of anxiety, I refer to the dedicated article that can be found HERE .
The psychodynamic technique is recommended to support the treatment of symptoms with a solid foundation for structuring an apparatus of personal tools that can be used by the individual at any time.
These tools will be essential to be able to prevent and take care of oneself if a relapse or a delicate moment in life should be perceived.
Psychological accompaniment can therefore help the patient to create their own toolbox for continuous work on themselves and relationships.