Depression is a disease that involves chemical changes in the brain and impacts the entire body, not just the mind. People who suffer from depression often lose or gain weight, have poor sleep habits, and lack energy.
Almost everyone feels sad, lonely, or unhappy at times. But a person suffering from depression feels this way all or almost all of the time. With the exception of anxiety, depression is the most common mental disorder in the United States.
Many nursing home residents suffer from depression. Symptoms of the disease usually develop slowly over a period of days or weeks. Very early signs of depression include decreased physical and mental activity, and feelings of sadness, irritability, and anxiety.
When people are clinically depressed, they may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
Inability to concentrate
Complaints of physical illness
Inability to feel pleasure or other emotions
Increase in self-critical thoughts
Increase in sleep disturbances. It may be difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up at the usual time. May feel excessively tired after a full night’s sleep
Changes in appetite and eating habits
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness; thoughts or threats of suicide.
Personality changes, such is irritability or introversion
Increase in sexual promiscuity or loss of sexual interest
Increas in use of alcohol or drugs.
If many or most of these symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, there is a good chance that the diagnosis will be clinical depression. Next week, we’ll discuss causes, diagnosis, and treatment of depression.