*Disclaimer: This article has not been written by a qualified health practitioner. There are various psychiatric conditions and illnesses. If you think that you might suffer from one, please seek professional help.
We all experience loss, sadness, stress, anger, heartbreak, irritation, grief, a sense of unfulfilling and general unhappiness at some point in our lives. It's the human condition. After all, life is hard, and everyone we know will die, if we don't beat them to it.
So when does one know when one should stop trying to pull oneself together, and start seeking professional help instead?
I think the following five symptoms might be an indication.
You don't enjoy things anymore. Even the things you used to enjoy
It's called anhedonia baby and it is the clinical term for lack of pleasure. So if, for example, you used to enjoy cooking, or going out with friends, or reading, or gaming, or dancing, or rubbing yourself full of peanut butter and rolling in a pool full of syrup, and you suddenly find yourself not enjoying it anymore, it might spell trouble. But don't gauge this on only one thing though. And be sensible: if your mother, who taught you the peanut butter trick just died, of course you might not enjoy it like you used to.
You're eating too little or too much
Depression often goes hand in hand with lack of appetite. Sometimes, if you're really, really, really unlucky it might go with an INCREASED appetite. Either way, you won't find a dieter's sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction when you deny yourself food, and you won't find a glutton's pleasure, or sensory enjoyment when you overeat (see above point). BUT you will still find yourself unable to eat, or unable to stop eating. So a marked change in diet and weight is something to look out for.
You can't sleep or you can't wake up
Like eating habits, sleeping habits also manifest as 2 sides of the same coin. Either you can't sleep or you can't stay awake - even if your very life depended on it!
Both have the exact same result though: Getting up in the morning and dragging your tired ass into the shower is easily as daunting as climbing Mount Everest with no oxygen packs, no water that's not frozen, and only the flesh of your deceased crew to snack on.
You're a burden on your nearest and dearest, or you ignore them completely
So your mom has started screening your calls and your friends play "rock, paper, scissors" to decide who will sit next to you at a party. Relax, it's not you, or them, it is just the depression messing with you. (We hope.)
Because even the people who love you the most will eventually get exhausted with your sadness, your low opinion of yourself, and your selfishness (newsflash: depressed people can only see their own pain) and eventually you will alienate even your staunchest supporters.
That is, if you haven't alienated them ALREADY by ignoring them! Yep, there's yet another flipside: avoiding your loved ones because you're too scared to see yourself mirrored in their eyes. Hmm, how's that working out for you?
You don't care about important shit
You missed the promotion you've been working for for the last 2 years. Your sister had her baby 6 weeks before her due date. 3000 people died because a badly built building collapsed. A meteor is on its way to earth and the entire planet is toast.
Yawn. Whatevs. Blah blah blah. Apathy it's called. You're feeling apathetic.
Yet, when you get a cappuccino instead of a latte you burst into tears.
This might totally mean you're just a selfish, whiny, attention seeking arsehole, but maybe, just maybe, it's time to go see a doctor.
** As an identified and, mostly successfully, treated depressive I want to stress that different approaches work for different people. Whether it be meds or therapy or a variety of alternative treatments, or all of the aforementioned I urge anyone who felt this article struck a chord - either for yourself or a loved one, to visit someone who specialises in this shit.
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