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Depressive Symptoms | What to Watch Out For

Depressive Symptoms | What to Watch Out For


It isn’t unnatural to feel sad occasionally, especially when there is a specific reason.  Feeling unhappy, hopeless and distressed on most days, however, isn’t healthy.  When these feelings encumber your everyday functioning, interfere with your daily activities and relationships, or just getting through the day is becoming overwhelming; be aware, because you could be depressed.

Sadness is notably the most common and familiar symptom. Thus, the term “depression” is often loosely used to describe excessive sadness. It is, however, not present in every case. If sadness isn’t being presented, but you are avoiding people or sleeping less, there may be good reasons to seek professional help.  A proper assessment of symptoms is necessary for a diagnosis to be made and for a treatment program to be created for you.


Recognizing Depressive Symptoms: The Challenge

It is true that sadness is a hallmark symptom of clinical depression. If a person is introverted or is used to being alone and reserved, such as some older adults, the symptom can be mistaken as usual behavior.  Know that the presentation of depression isn’t always as noticeable as outward despair and frequent crying. The symptoms may have more than one pattern as the condition progresses from mild to moderate to severe.

Boadie W. Dunlop, MD, of the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, says that, “Often the changes are subtle, and the person may not notice, but their friends and loved ones may.” According to expert Richard Kravitz, MD, MSPH, of the University of California, Davis, “Depression doesn’t always look like debilitating sadness.”

The progression of depression may similarly vary from one person to another. The changes in behavior may be unnoticeable as the condition worsens.  It is also possible to be happy one day and then be deeply depressed another day.  Despite the symptoms that can be present, a depressed person may choose to ignore them. Kravitz says that, “Patients are reluctant to consider depression as a cause of their symptoms—in part because they may equate it with weakness, but also in part because they simply don’t associate those symptoms with depression.”


Are You Depressed?

It isn’t uncommon for depressed people to miss the signs and symptoms, after all, they can be complex and differ widely between individuals. In general, though, persistent and illogical sadness deserves attention; particularly when it is accompanied by loss of interest in the things that you use to enjoy or when your feelings are interfering with your work/school, relationships and social life.

You may not necessarily be feeling sad, but you can still be depressed. According to NHS Choices, the symptoms of depression can have emotional, physical and social symptoms.


The emotional symptoms include:

  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • finding no enjoyment in life
  • feeling anxious or worried
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself


Emotional symptoms may also take the form of feeling “numb” or not feeling anything. Like a “robot,” you may do things without drive and passion. This can result in your feeling distant, disinterested in other people and activities. To “correct” your feelings, you may seek out unhealthy alternatives – alcohol, drugs, smoking – or keep yourself occupied with something like gambling, shopping, eating, or long hours on the Internet.

Depression may have physical symptoms too. It can change your appetite, so you eat less or more than usual. It can put a damper on your interest and lower your energy, so you may lose your sex drive or move/talk more slowly than usual. You may also suffer from sleeplessness and disturbed sleeping patterns, resulting in feeling irritable during waking hours. It can also trigger constipation, unexplained aches and pains, and even affect your menstrual cycle.

The condition can, likewise, manifest as social symptoms. By losing interest in so many aspects of your life, you may not perform well in school or at work. You may prefer to be on your own, avoiding people, even the ones you love or care for. You may also neglect your personal hygiene, as well as interests and hobbies you were once passionate about. This neglect and social withdrawal may lead to further isolation and damaged relationships.


Is it Depression or Grief?

Grief and depression can bring you extreme sadness and both share a number of similarities. When in a state of gloom, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether it is still grief, especially if you have experienced a loss, or you are already depressed. The similarities can pose a challenge in distinguishing grief from depression. Take note, however, that these two are distinctly different from each other.

Grief is a response to a loss while depression is an emotional condition. The emotional pain of loss can fluctuate, despite this however, you may not lose your interest in people, activities, and things that you’re interested in or passionate about.  When you are in grief, you can still function as you have before.

Depression, on the other hand, is an emotional condition that can leave you persistently feeling awful, even when you didn’t lose someone or something important.  You can lose interest in the many different aspects of your life, depriving you the opportunity to enjoy greater fulfillment. Because it is a condition, it may need to be treated to achieve an improved outcome, and for the symptoms to lessen, and for your optimal functioning to be restored. Unlike grief, depression symptoms may not go away, unless you seek professional help.

Depressive symptoms can take other forms, depending on the type that affects you. Postpartum blues or postnatal depression can leave you in unhappy, disinterested and seemingly uncaring state. Manic depression or bipolar disorder can bring in “manic” symptoms, which can include risky behaviors, such as carelessly spending lots of money on senseless shopping sprees, gambling, or substance abuse. For seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the bouts of symptoms coincide with the seasons, usually during the colder months.


Bouncing Back from Depression

Depression is a condition that can result in your feeling extremely and persistently unhappy. To stay this way is unnecessary, because depression is treatable as with many other medical conditions. To bounce back from its grasp and look forward to a future with hope, you can seek help from a trusted and qualified professional – a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services in Cameron, NC – on Hwy 87, near Linden Oaks.

Reconciling with the idea that you may need to see a health professional may be unnerving, however, put your confidence in our experience as professionals.  Carolina Counseling Services values your privacy as a foundation of trust. Our office entrance is not conspicuous and your record’s security and personal information are our utmost concern. Let one of our independently contracted experts help you. Call CCS-Cameron for your first appointment!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Cameron, NC

Counties: Harnett County

Areas: Cameron NC, Linden Oaks NC, Sprout Springs NC, Anderson Creek NC, Olivia NC, Pineview NC, Johnsonville NC, Spring Lake NC

Zip Codes: 28326, 28327, 27332, 28394

Rose Thomas, MA, LPC, LCAS, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Teens, Individuals, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADHD, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Parenting, PTSD/Trauma Recovery, Acute Stress Disorder, Adult Sexual Abuse Survivors, Adjustment Disorders, Depressive Disorders, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Bipolar and Related Disorders, Self-injurious/Self-Harm, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety, Disruptive Disorders, Conduct Disorder, Marital Conflict and Discord, LGBT, Substance Use Disorders
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Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Individuals, families, PTSD, Trauma, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Adjustment Disorder, ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, communication skills, and Parenting Skills, Behavior Management, Life transitions, Family Conflict, Difficulty Coping, Relationship Problems, Depression, Anxiety

InsuranceBCBSTricare, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted and Apple Pay

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Shirlisa Daniels, MS, LPC, NCC

Specializes in: (Ages 4+) Children, Teens, Adults and Individuals, Families, Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Panic Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, Relationship Issues, Conflict Resolution and Life Transitions
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Holly Ring, LMFT

Specializes in: (Ages 7+) Adolescents, College Students, Individuals, Couples, and Families, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma (child and adult, TFCBT certified), Relationship Issues, Coping Skills, Adjustment Disorders, Life Transitions, Suicidal Ideation, Self-esteem, OCD, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting Skills, LGBTQ
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Cash (credit cards accepted)
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

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