How to Recognise the Symptoms of Depression

Over the years I have suffered from depression on and off, largely due to my pretty horrendous life experiences. There are a number of danger signs to look out for, especially if you haven't suffered from depression before, or are unsure what to look for. There is so much more to feeling depressed than simply being tearful or miserable, and various other symptoms you may not be aware of are classic danger signs.

When my most recent episode hit me, it was the first for a couple of years. It came without much warning, and suddenly I experienced a whole load of symptoms I had not ever really noticed on previous occasions. In fact, there were so many I typed them up to take into my doctors with me so I wouldn't forget any of them. I was inclined to think I might be lapsing into depression again, and was therefore quite relieved when my Doctor read my list, and straight away said I was a 'textbook case'.

To help others who may suspect that they too are depressed, I have decided it is worth my re-writing this list here, in case others out there are also, as yet, undiagnosed 'textbook cases', and who may recognise these symptoms and then seek the appropriate help.

The List

What I am Feeling and Experiencing Day to Day

1) Whenever I close my eyes to go to sleep or have a nap, or I have no other distractions, I find my mind obsessively turning over and over all the bad experiences I have been through in my life, e.g. bereavements, violent partners, bullying, as well as current pressures, (such as having so much trouble getting pregnant, financial worries etc). Many of these memories go back to my schooldays and all the years that have followed. No matter how hard I try I cannot switch them off, and it is causing me to have trouble getting to sleep or relax. When I do finally sleep I have nightmares and very disturbing dreams and wake up feeling exhausted, stressed and depressed. As soon as I begin to wake up even slightly, my mind begins turning over and over the same traumatic events from my past, current worries and concerns, and before I know it I can't get back to sleep even though I still need more.

2) I find I need far more sleep than is normal, and unless I have at least 10-11 hours sleep I cannot function normally and feel exhausted and lethargic.

3) I am more emotional than I have ever been, and find myself in tears over the smallest things, such as a News article, a documentary, or reliving my own past memories or current worries.

4) In recent weeks I have found myself having what I can only describe as panic attacks, where I get the feeling of "a huge cold pit of stress or really bad butterflies" in my stomach, even when half asleep. I try changing positions in the bed, but it won't go away and makes me feel physically sick, (to the degree I have actually been sick on several occasions). I find the most comfortable way to deal with this is to tuck my knees up towards my stomach whilst lying on my back in the bed, but it is still there. This feeling has stayed with me when I have got dressed and gone downstairs, and I find my hands shaking and an overwhelming sense of dread at the thought of going out of the house to go to work or to be around people.

5) I am not interested in socialising unless it involves visiting my Mother and Stepfather at their home, and will tend to avoid going out or make excuses. Even they are unaware of what I am going through and how I am feeling, and I would not want to worry them by telling them, especially as my Mother has enough health problems of her own right now, and tends to be a compulsive worrier by nature.

6) On the surface I appear to most people to be my normal cheerful self, but this seems to be out of my control, as if I need to be this way for them to like me, and only in private do my real feelings come to the surface. Even when I went for counseling in the past for depression, I found myself behaving very much like I was in a job interview, and unable to show much of my true feelings, or even be consciously aware of most of them whilst I was in that environment.

7) I am concerned that if I am diagnosed as suffering from depression it could affect the fertility specialist's willingness to treat me, be it with "Clomid" or any other treatment. I fear this would make things so much worse, as I really feel a deep seated "need" to have a baby, and am convinced this will change my life for the better and give me a sense of purpose, as well as fulfillment, even though I am under no illusions as to how much work is involved in bringing up a child. I am not sure how I will cope if ever it becomes apparent that I cannot get pregnant again having already been pregnant once after years of infertility, and then having chosen to terminate the pregnancy.

8) I was due to begin a new full time job on Monday, but feel unable to face this with the way I am feeling. I am certain I would not cope and that I would sink further into depression and exhaustion if trying to hold such a position whilst struggling with my emotions. It has become apparent that my best course of action is probably to withdraw my acceptance of the job offer and concentrate my efforts on sorting out my depression, and hopefully the fertility specialist can help me to get pregnant which would be a cause for great joy and would give me a far more positive outlook on life. I would like to be in a position to seek a suitable part-time job in the next month or two, but in the meantime I sincerely feel I would be more able to concentrate on getting my depression under control if I were to be signed off work and given the medical support I need to feel able to return to regular employment.

9) I do now feel a course of anti-depressants may now be the best option for me, and have only been reluctant to take them because of the risk of it affecting my fertility treatment, the willingness of the fertility specialist to treat me and the risk of my becoming too dependant on them, however I am willing to give them a try if you can, as my GP, reassure me about these concerns.

This was the list exactly as I gave it to my doctor around 6 months ago. Since then much has happened, including the fertility specialist saying there is not much chance at all of my getting pregnant without IVF, which neither my Husband or I can afford. I am now on a mild form of anti-depressant (Prozac), that does seem to help, and I do socialise more, although I am still signed off work and have no actual job to go back to. All in all I am much better than I was, and discovering hubpages has helped hugely with this improvement as it gives me the opportunity to channel my busy mind into writing rather than simply dwelling on my thoughts.

In addition to my list I now find my short-term memory is terrible compared to how it used to be, although my long term memory is perfect. At least now I don't break down in tears at everything, and I can still have a really good laugh, although this doesn't mean I am not depressed, simply experiencing what they call "laughing depression", where people think you are okay, although inside you may still be suffering, just not visibly, or not as much as you were doing.

My dreaming is now bearable and not too disturbed, and my panic attacks have gone for the most part. I still need loads of sleep, and I never did take the job I was due to start in the end, (which I think was the right decision). I still have a very active brain that simply refuses to switch off, but I expel thoughts through hubpages which is why they have helped me so much.

Right now I still doubt I could hold down many jobs as my memory is too bad and I doubt I would pass the training or last long even if given the job. I also feel the panic attacks would return if I went back to a new position, so for now I concentrate on being a homemaker and writing my hubs.

I really hope this hub may help anyone out there going through the same symptoms to recognise they may be suffering from depression also, and that it will encourage them to seek help. Certainly I am far happier and more in control of my emotions than I was 6 months ago, and I think this is down to the medication which is at a non-addictive level of strength.

To read more of my emotional struggles and why I do suffer from depression, read my hubs:

More by this Author

Comments 29 comments

countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 8 years ago from Washington, USA

WOW!! Nice article. One of my work colleague is going through her divorce and she is very depressed due to this(yes I end up being agony aunt for her). Good hub

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks countrywomen, perhaps your friend could read this too as it may help her to understand what she is feeling.

Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 8 years ago from West By God

Wow, I was diagnosed with moderate depression way back when my kids were young. I still go through it sometimes. It's like waking up only I can't remember when I went to sleep. I guess I am on autopilot thrugh that. I don't know. I do know that I am going into SADD right now. I can feel it but I cannot do anything about it.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

I believe I suffer drom SAD too, and I am sure it is coming my way as the season is clearly changing.

starrkissed profile image

starrkissed 8 years ago from Arizona

I was diagnosed with depression and axiety on January 1st, this year. It's a hard thing to deal with, but luckily there are medications. Thanks for posting this!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for posting starrkissed, as you say, 'luckily there are medications'.

marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

Hi Misty, I am concerned that you go through this.  Have you taken natural supplements?  There are many herbs and even fish oil has good effects on depression! 

I'm glad writing is helpful for you, it's a great way to vent and even find answers to things as you write.  =))  I wish the best for you.  My mind too, is seldom "quiet" and it does effect my sleep and rest.

Training through bio feed back is helpful to some, as it helps you concentrate and be in control of the mind, instead of it bossing...

anyway, I do hope you will find some things that alleviate the depression!  don't want to give too much advice here... but be well.. 

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thank you Marisuewrites, I am looking into taking St. John's Wort as a supplement after my Doctor suggested it. I also occasionally take Omega 3 oil capsules.

Don't worry about me too much as I feel far better than before thesedays and thanks for your well wishing. :)

dawei888 profile image

dawei888 7 years ago

Dear MistyHorizon, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write that wonderful hub about your experiences with depression. I think it takes a lot of guts and courage to write down so much of one's emotions and experiences here. And, please know that what you have shared about yourself is a great help to others as we also live through similar hard experiences. I have found that one workable way to cope with depression is to basically cut off relationships with people in our lives who make us feel bad about outselves. I wrote a hub about it. The title is "How to Overcome and Treat Depression". You may have a look at it if you're interested. Thanks again!

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks so much for your positive feedback dawei888. Would love to read your hub, please link to it here so others can also.

I guess I simply do my best to 'deal with it' thesedays, but things still do really get me down, and I dream endlessly when I sleep, plus struggling to get back to sleep for hours if I wake up at all, (my mind immediately goes into overdrive and worries, thinks and processes uncontrollably). I still need about 12 -14 hours sleep a day due to the low quality of the sleep I get, and my memory is awful, with large blanks much of the time as far as recent events go.

Looking forward to reading your hub, and of your experiences also.


atienza profile image

atienza 7 years ago from Northern California

Sounds quite a bit like my symptoms (when I'm having them). I hope that you'll soon have a full remission and feel better.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks Atienza, nice to know I am not alone andyou know what it is like :)

dawei888 profile image

dawei888 7 years ago

Hi Misty - I just saw your response to my comment now. Thanks for responding. In terms of sleep patterns we have a lot in common. If you look at other members of your family you'll probably find that these traits are genetic as I have. It's hard to just tell the mind to relax and stop thinking!!! Here is the link to my hub:

All the best,David

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Actually it's not really dawei888, as my family are really stable, it only seems to be me unfortunately.

poetlorraine 7 years ago

hi enjoyed this...... as much as reading about depression can be enjoyed ..........what a nightmare it is, every now and again to put up with..... it seems from all your hubs,you have found a way to function with or without it.....

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks poetlorraine, I guess it is a case of "sink or swim", and I choose to swim, although I am not pretending it is always easy, especially on the bad days when you find yourself tearful and emotional for no really good reason. Glad you enjoyed the hub :)

dragonbear profile image

dragonbear 7 years ago from Essex UK

A great hub mistyhorizon, there are many here who will benefit from reading it through I'm sure.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thank you dragonbear, I sure hope you are right.

MythiliK profile image

MythiliK 6 years ago from India --> Switzerland

Dear mistyhorizon2003, this is a great hub. I have given reference of this hub in my latest hub about depression here Thanks.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks MythiliK, I am glad you liked this and could use a reference to it. I appreciate it very much.

gemart 5 years ago

i am going through with all of these,and i guess,having a baby will change everything...i wanted so much to have one,but i am miles away from my having headaches everyday because of too much thinking on how and when i am gonna be with my husband...

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 5 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi gemart, I do wish you well, and I hope when you and your Husband do get a chance to be together you are successful in having a baby, but do be aware, if you actually have clinical depression there is no guarantee a baby will be a miracle cure, and the stress of bringing up a young child, and the restrictions it places on your freedom, could actually make your depression worse than ever, especially if your Husband is away a lot (you don't say why he is 'miles away'). You could end up feeling completely isolated with just a very demanding baby to wash, feed and run round after, and no 'adult' company to interact with.

MellyMoo profile image

MellyMoo 5 years ago from Australia

Hi gemart. I know all about depression from personal experience and have had it for many years. I have four children and hard as it can be, you will find a way to cope, if you do fall pregnant. If it is meant to be, the universe will find a way for you! Good luck

kmc 4 years ago

Hi Mistyhorizon2003, I too suffered many of feelings. The biggest is not getting pregnant, it just doesn't seem fair when you want something so normal and you just can't seem to do anything about it. I was very depressed, no one knew it. But I found a way through it and that was I began to ask God, the creator of all things in heaven and on earth. And just like the Bible says, seek and you will find, knock and He will answer. He cured me of depression and He also brought a child to me in an amazing adoption story.(and The cost was TRUST and FAITH, that's it) He is a good and loving God. It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. Seek and you WILL FIND.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for sharing your experience kmc, and I am glad adoption worked well for you (sadly it is not something I feel is right for me).

I am not a follower of the Bible but my religion does believe in a creator/God though,(I am a Pagan), but I am afraid that fertility and a baby is not something I am destined to be granted. Getting to be too late for it to happen now as I am into my early 40's so the odds are getting worse, not better.

LR45 profile image

LR45 4 years ago from Wales, UK

I too suffer from depression, and your symptoms mirror mine almost perfectly.. I can sympathise totally. I 'lived inside my head' for months, unable to switch off the negative thoughts which would wake me in the early hours of the morning making sleep impossible. Tiredness would make everything seem worse and so I became caught in a vicious circle. A dreadful illness that unfortunately, in today's society, seems to becoming more prevalent.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Hi LR45, so nice to 'meet' someone who truly understands how depression can effect an individual from their own personal experience. I can't help wondering if the increased pressures we all face day to day in this modern world (be them financial or in the workplace) have been the cause of the increase in cases of depression in modern times.

LR45 profile image

LR45 4 years ago from Wales, UK

I think that is most certainly the case Misty, sad but true. I found your hub very interesting, thank you for sharing a deeply personal experience. Hubs like yours help to throw some light on the shady subject of depression and mental illness, and that surely, can only be for the good of all concerned, be they sufferers or loved ones of those affected.

mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks LR45, and I really appreciate both your comments :)

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