Every single one of us experiences some unhappiness at some point in our life. You’ve probably more than once felt sad or depressed about your life’s ups and downs. You may even get the blues from having your self esteem damaged. This is a normal reaction to loss. Feeling depressed can often be a result of a change, either in the form of a setback or a loss. The painful feelings that accompany these events are usually appropriate, even necessary. And believe it or not, they can even present an opportunity for personal growth. Normal reactions of this kind to life’s events are transitory.

Depression is a mood disorder where the sufferers feel sad, anxious, or hopeless for an extended period of time. The helpless and worthless feelings last from a few days to several weeks. They begin to impair daily life. You might stop eating and sleeping. Going to work is out of the question, and you lose all desire for social situations.

According to the DSM-IV, a manual used to diagnose mental disorders, depression occurs when you have at least five of the following nine symptoms at the same time:

  • You are down and depressed most of the day especially in the morning.
  • You feel guilty or worthless nearly every day.
  • You feel over tired and have no energy daily.
  • You have no interest in any activities, even those you used to love doing. If by chance you do stir yourself to do them, you get no pleasure or satisfaction as you once did from the hobby or activity.
  • You experience the two extremes of sleep: insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
  • You undergo a change of more than 5% of body weight over the course of a month either a significant weight gain or loss.
  • You suffer an inability to concentrate. You are unable to make a decision even about the smallest matters.
  • You find yourself thinking of being dead or committing suicide. This is not to be confused with a fear of death.
  • You experience either of the extremes of personal motor behavior. You feel incredibly restless and show it through finger tapping, pacing, or stopping and starting tasks. This is called psychomotor agitation. The other extreme is called psychomotor retardation. This is deliberate action taken to the extreme. For example, talking very slowly, chewing slowly, or walking slowly.

Of course, not everyone with depression experiences the same symptoms. The disease is unique to the individual as is the severity of the symptoms and the time period they last.

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