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.
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: