Depression: Feelings, Thoughts and Behaviour
Depression is not always very visible. It can present in many ways. How do we identify depression in ourselves and in people around us? Our behaviour doesn’t always show how we feel or think especially when it comes to our mental health struggles. Behaviour presented to others can be deceiving.
Overt behaviour is the observable action of any living being. But behaviour can be deceptive.
A behaviour that gets a lot of attention is, ‘not being able to get out of bed’. People come to my office and say,” it can’t be depression, I mean I can get out of my bed in the morning”. This is not a criterion for diagnosing depression, it is an example of behaviour that signifies lack of motivation or loss of interest or tiredness.
Depression is a mood disorder. It is therefore imperative to identify emotions and thoughts that accompany depression. These may change in intensity and frequency depending on the severity and duration of depression.
Let’s have a look at the emotions, thoughts and behaviour that might indicate depressive disorder.
Hopeless, helpless, sorrow, sadness, loss, hurt, loneliness, gloomy, worthless.
Low or depressed mood most days. This constant sense of sadness, gloom, dread and nothing being as it was or as you want it to be. A sense of loss of some kind. Feeling of hollowness.
The feeling of hopelessness towards your future, yourself, others. Feeling of being doomed and stuck, thinking that nothing will ever improve or change.
Feeling that you’re not worthy of anything that you get and people should not care about you. You can never do anything right and feeling that everything you do and every effort made is worthless.
About self- thoughts about self are deprecating and defeating i.e., low self-esteem. Thinking that you won’t be able to do anything. Nothing you do matters or has any value; you are constantly messing things up or making mistakes and your work is never good.
About future- thought about future revolves around having no hope of anything ever improving and things being the same. No vision of the future. Thinking that everything is always going to be pointless and there’s no point in thinking about the future or planning anything.
About others- thoughts about others are along the lines of them not being there for you or you being a burden or disappointment for everyone in your life.
Suicidal thoughts- Thoughts about not wanting to exist, thoughts of something fatal happening by accident and it ending the suffering, thoughts of self-harm and thoughts about taking one’s own life.
Sleep- sleepless for most nights or sleeping more than usual. Difficulty falling asleep. feeling groggy and not rested after sleeping.
Appetite- eating less, restricting diet, skipping meals, lack of hunger and appetite or bingeing, overeating, feeling hungry more often than not. Having very little desire to eat or using food as a way to fill the emptiness and discomfort one feels.
Cognitive difficulties- not able to pay attention to work, studies, daily chores, losing concentration and having difficulty making decisions, second guessing every decision, feeling lost and not knowing what to do. Having difficulty with simple decisions and feeling overwhelmed and even emotional when something goes wrong.
Motivation & interest- No interest or motivation to do anything and slipping into a cycle of not doing much or anything at all during the day and feeling guilty, worthless and sad and then because you feel this way not doing anything again.
It is important to remember that the lists mentioned above are the common features or the depressive disorders.
Depressive disorders include disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, major depressive disorder, persistent depressive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, substance/medication induced depressive disorder, depressive disorder due to another medical condition, other specified and unspecified depressive disorder. The difference among these is duration, timing and the cause.
If you identify with the feelings, thoughts and behaviour mentioned in this article and have felt this way for two or more weeks and there’s been no respite or relief then please contact a mental health professional in your area. There are ways of overcoming this mood disorder.
Contact me if you are confused, want more information or have any questions.