Depression runs in my family. My mother, who was born in 1940, had it as an adult, but back then all they did was give women valium and send them home. If I remember correctly, she even got hooked on valium for a while. Nevertheless, as I grew into adulthood I always knew that I might suffer with it, too. The thing is when I did start getting the symptoms I didn’t recognize them as symptoms of depression and ignored them altogether, which is the worst thing a person can do.
On-Again, Off-Again Treatment
When you suffer from clinical depression and/or anxiety, it’s easy to blame the symptoms on something else – my favorite was to blame them on stress. After college, I started working and felt great about the future. But since depression symptoms don’t always include, well, being sad and depressed, I didn’t recognize them when they first came my way.
One of the first symptoms I had was extreme irritability and anger. I used to call my husband at work and tear right into him about the smallest thing. When he’d get home from work that evening, I’d barely remember the incident and I’d act like nothing was wrong. He, on the other hand, used to wonder what he did to suffer such a fate. And it happened more often than I’d like to admit.
The only reason I finally got on an antidepressant was that I started crying uncontrollably on a regular basis, and the doctor prescribed a mild one for me to take. But, I’d take it for a few months or even for a few years, then I’d stop taking it when I started to feel like I was more in control of my life. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve never stopped taking it and would’ve kept taking it forever.
I continued my on-again, off-again relationship with antidepressants for a number of years until I got close to 50 years old. Since then, I’ve been doing well because I’m now on several antidepressants and I see a therapist when I need to. But since some of the symptoms of depression can look like another ailment, I’d like to list some of the more unusual symptoms of this illness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please see your doctor about it immediately.
Lack of Interest in Hobbies
If you notice you are losing interest in something that used to give you a lot of pleasure, be it a hobby or even your work, you might be depressed. I know of one young man who loved playing volleyball and even played on a team with regular games and everything, and he suddenly quit playing cold turkey. While experiencing a lack of interest in a hobby of yours could be something other than depression, it’s still good to tell your doctor about it so you can get help figuring it out.
You Can No Longer Concentrate on Anything
If you’re finding it more and more difficult to concentrate even on simple tasks, this could be a sign of depression. Finding yourself at work and going over and over the same paperwork but not getting anything done is frustrating, not to mention a great way to waste time. But if you’re trying to concentrate on anything and you can’t manage to think clearly enough to do this, you might be depressed.
You No Longer Look Forward to the Future
While most people occasionally experience feeling “burnt out,” it can go much deeper than that. It gets so bad for some people that they feel a sense of foreboding like something bad is actually going to happen to them. We all deserve to look forward to our future, and when your motivation to do anything is gone because you feel like there’s no point in feeling or acting positive about the future, this is never a good sign.
Lack of a Sex Drive
A lack of interest is often a sign of depression, and this includes a lack of interest in sex. Not feeling like having sex once in a while happens to most of us, but if it starts to be a regular part of your life, it’s time to do something about it. This is especially important if you normally love sex and now feel like it’s a bother or a waste of time. Let’s face it, sex is an important part of a normal, healthy relationship, so when that desire is gone, you have to start wondering why.
Many people who are depressed find themselves in physical pain before they realize they’re depressed. If you constantly suffer from back pain, headaches, or even stomach problems, the cause could be emotional rather than physical. If you keep wondering why your aches and pains won’t go away, it’s time to check with your doctor. Physical pain of any kind is often one of the first telltale signs of depression.
What Should You Do First?
If I could talk to my younger self about depression, I would tell her about the sometimes unique and even unusual symptoms associated with this illness. I would tell her to get to a doctor immediately, take the medication prescribed without stopping, and take better care of herself both physically and emotionally. When you’re young, it’s easy to think you’re invincible, but there is never anything wrong with getting some help. You owe it to yourself to be happy with your life, and learning to live with depression always starts with recognizing some of the symptoms.