Anyone can feel sad, discouraged, or unhappy on occasion, often following a disappointment, the loss of a loved one, or any other difficult situation. This is a normal reaction and such a feeling of depression usually goes away fairly quickly. However, for some people, the depression will persist and intensify over time, and will also affect their professional, academic, and social performance. This is what is known as a major depression.
The person has :
• A depressed mood most of the day, almost every day
The person expresses feelings of sadness or emptiness, tends to cry easily, or feels like crying but cannot.
• A significant decrease in interest or enjoyment in almost every activity
The person is unable to feel any sense of pleasure in performing an activity that used to be enjoyable to them or exhibits a loss of interest in work, hobbies, and people.
These other symptoms may also be present :
• A significant change in weight despite not being on a diet
Most often, the weight loss occurs with no conscious effort to lose it, however weight gain is also a possibility.
• Insomnia or, less often, hypersomniaInsomnia : Insomnia: Trouble falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night or very early in the morning (4 or 5 a.m.), or unrefreshing sleep.
Hypersomnia : Hypersomnia: Good quality sleep over long periods (typically more than 10 hours per night) and few night-time awakenings. A person with hypersomnia may sleep very long nights or have frequent naps of several hours. These naps are most often unrefreshing.
• Restlessness or psychomotor retardation
Restlessness: The person affected is constantly on the move, has a hard time remaining calmly seated, or feels overexcited.
Psychomotor retardation : More often than not, the person affected will experience a slowing down of the thought process and physical movements. The person speaks slowly, takes a long time to answer, the pitch of their voice decreases, they move less or less quickly.
• Fatigue or energy loss almost every day
The person affected feels unable to perform their usual daily tasks without becoming overly tired. Getting out of bed may seem overwhelming to them.
• Feeling of worthlessness or excessive/misplaced guilt
The person feels useless, incompetent, worthless, or that they are a burden to others.They may even feel responsible for unpleasant events even if they did not cause them.
• Trouble thinking, remembering certain things, concentrating, or making decisions
The person feels indecisive about things that they did not previously feel indecisive about: choosing between two enjoyable activities, two meals they like, etc. The person has more trouble organizing their thoughts and is slower in expressing them.
• Recurring thoughts about death or suicide
If you believe that someone close to you has death-related thoughts or is contemplating suicide, it is crucial that you ask them directly if they are considering committing suicide or dying. Contrary to popular belief, doing so does not trigger a suicide attempt. Asking the question can actually save the life of the suicidal person. Don’t hesitate to ask for support, if needed, from a specialized resource, such as JEVI Centre de prévention du suicide – Estrie at 1-866- APPELLE.
The symptoms of depression cause considerable suffering for the individual and impair their ability to function socially and professionally.
Medication can be essential in case of a major depression.
Psychotherapy is also important.
The most common treatment is a combination of psychotherapy and medication.