Trying to figure out whether or not you are experiencing Major Depressive Disorder can be tricky. The way it presents itself may appear very different between two people. I have put together this list of signs and symptoms to know if you might need to seek further evaluation from a professional mental health practitioner (therapist).
The SIGECAPS depression clues:
- S – Sleep will likely become an issue and people often complain of waking up suddenly at 2 or 3 am and just laying there thinking about whatever has been bothering them.
- I – Interest in doing the things that used to be enjoyable will go way down, like become non-existent in some cases. Some may find themselves wanting to do what makes them happy but have no apparent motivation for it.
- G – Guilt becomes a more frequent feeling. In depression we see it show up as self-deprecating thinking, for example “Maybe if I was good my friends would want to hang out, but that won’t happen”.
- E – Energy is virtually gone. People complain of feeling lethargic, or exhausted from simple tasks. This leads to sleep issues as well, because they may want to sleep all day and then are up all night.
- C – Concentration gets pretty difficult. Even watching TV can become too much for the person to concentrate on.
- A – Appetite disturbance is very common, but in some people this feels like they are never hungry and in others they become ravenous eating machines.
- P – Psychomotor Retardation or Agitation … okay that all just means that a person might be moving so slowly they feel like they aged 40 years or they will be super restless and feel abnormally agitated.
- S – Suicidal thinking happens to some people affected by depression, but not everyone. It’s a tricky beast and I will dive deeper into that in a separate article.
Technically, someone is only diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder if they have 5 or more of the above symptoms for at least 2 weeks. The additional part is the overall mood and attitude of the person will likely be depressed, down, or hopeless for that period of time. Some people will feel more agitated and irritable, so the person may want to isolate and be left alone.
Finally, suicidal thinking is not always present and if it is does not mean that the person is intent on hurting themselves. Some people literally feel so overwhelmed that they say “I just want to disappear” or “I don’t want to be here anymore”, but when we explore it further they just want the overwhelmed feeling to be gone – not their physical self.
Reach out to a Therapist in your area if you can relate to the any of the things listed above. A good place to look for one is on Psychology Today – www.psychologytoday.com.