I started experiencing depression in 2010, and the psychological symptoms of depression that I felt were intense and painful to the point where I began to hate myself. I no longer had the strength to do anything or the desire to engage in activities I once enjoyed. Keep reading to learn more about other symptoms in detail.
|Psychological symptoms of depression
Psychological symptoms of depression
Psychological symptoms of depression gradually appear parallel to the unfavorable external circumstances individuals experience in their daily lives. It is worth mentioning that when someone is afflicted with depression, it becomes like being trapped blindfolded in a dark forest, losing their geographical map. Every time you try to find a way out of this dark forest, you end up delving deeper into it. This is exactly what happens when the symptoms of psychological depression begin to manifest. Once the first symptom appears, typically nervous tension and acute anxiety, other symptoms start to emerge consecutively, such as apathy and loss of interest in anything.
Psychological symptoms of depression often serve as the starting point for various behavioral deviations that depressed individuals resort to in order to alleviate their pain and suffering. One of these behavioral deviations, and the most famous, is substance abuse in all its forms, which only further plunges the depressed patient into the depths of addiction. Additionally, exacerbating the psychological and physical symptoms of depression, not to mention the connection between depression and addictions like pornography, masturbation, internet addiction, and addiction to certain foods, especially those rich in sugars. On the other hand, psychological symptoms of depression often resemble symptoms of other mental and organic diseases, leading to misdiagnosis and inaccurate treatment.
Psychological symptoms of depression also vary depending on the type of depression, such as seasonal affective disorder or major depressive disorder. They are not necessarily the same as the symptoms of psychotic depression or chronic depression. Each type has its own specific symptoms, although there may be similarities in the symptoms, they cannot be entirely identical. Therefore, it is always important for a depressed patient to determine the type of depression they are experiencing in order to effectively deal with their psychological and physical symptoms.
Psychological signs of depression in detail
• Emotional Numbness: When experiencing depression, the concentration of certain hormones and neurotransmitters (such as serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, etc.) decreases. These substances are responsible for producing emotions in the brain's nerve endings, which is why symptoms of psychological depression manifest as a sense of rigidity and emotional numbness. It's as if the depressed individual becomes a mechanical being without emotions. However, this is impossible because emotions play a vital role in the evolutionary chain of the human species, especially in terms of social interaction, which relies on the sensory and emotional expression.
• Profound Sadness: Most patients who exhibit symptoms of psychological depression complain of significant misery and intense sadness without any real reason for it. This feeling is clearly evident in the gloomy facial expressions, noticeable by their family members and friends. Interestingly, most depressed patients repeatedly try to change their circumstances to alleviate this state, but they encounter great difficulty in overcoming this deep-rooted feeling ingrained in the human psyche.
• Sleep Disturbance: Sleep is greatly affected and serves as one of the key indicators to determine whether a person is suffering from depression or not. This is because the neurotransmitter involved in the sleep process, known as melatonin, is derived from another neurotransmitter closely associated with depression. This neurotransmitter is called serotonin, or the "happiness hormone," which is typically low in depressed patients, causing a decrease in the sleep hormone as well. This leads to insomnia and difficulty sleeping. On the other hand, some individuals may experience a strong desire to sleep excessively, spending more than 12 hours in bed. These individuals often do not suffer from serotonin deficiency, but other hormones are decreased in their case.
• Mood Disorders: Depression ranks alongside certain diseases and disorders on the list of well-known mood disorders. It significantly affects mood stability in its natural state, especially in the morning period just before waking up. This often leads most depressed patients to retreat to bed and lack the psychological energy to face life. Mood disorders, along with other symptoms of psychological depression, are major diagnostic criteria for determining the type of depression that affects each individual.
• Appetite Disturbance: Several factors, especially those related to the endocrine system, influence human appetite. This system secretes hormones such as ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and another hormone called leptin (the satiety hormone). Studies published on everydayhealth.com have confirmed that depression negatively affects the balance of these hormones, leading to appetite disturbances. This is one of the prominent primary symptoms of psychological depression, which is heavily relied upon for diagnosing and determining the type of depression in each patient. It's worth noting that depression may increase appetite in some patients, leading to obesity due to excessive eating and lack of physical activity. Conversely, depression may decrease appetite, resulting in unhealthy weight loss due to reduced food intake.
• Severe Anxiety and Stress: Stress or tension is considered the main cause of developing all mental and psychological disorders, and its symptoms persist even after the onset of depression. It accompanies the primary symptoms of psychological depression and can escalate to acute anxiety and pathological worry. This occurs due to a chloride ion absorption imbalance at the nerve endings of depressed and stressed individuals. One of the negative complications of acute anxiety is its detrimental impact on the daily quality of life for depressed patients.
• Feelings of despair and helplessness: Among the prominent symptoms of psychological depression that negatively impact the daily quality of life for patients, we find feelings of despair and helplessness. These feelings act as major obstacles that confine and restrict the patient, making them feel imprisoned in a dark room, far away from society. Without engaging in any activities or accomplishing tasks that could provide them with some positive emotions, the patient is unable to reaffirm their self-worth within the community. Unfortunately, after a certain period of time, they may start contemplating suicide because they simply do not find meaning in their life.
• Persistent negative thinking: We cannot discuss the symptoms of psychological depression without mentioning the pattern of persistent negative thinking that dominates the mind of a depressed individual. Psychologist Dr. Ahmed Haroun describes this type of negative thinking as cognitive distortions, meaning that a depressed patient thinks in a biased, pessimistic, and inaccurate way about events and situations that a mentally healthy person would think about in a positive and optimistic manner. This difference in thinking between a depressed patient and a mentally healthy individual may not be discernible to ordinary people, but mental health professionals can easily explore and address it through cognitive-behavioral therapy methods and techniques.
• Sexual desire disturbance: One of the prominent symptoms of psychological depression that psychiatrists rely on to diagnose and classify depression accurately is the disturbance in sexual desire. Sexual desire is considered one of the basic needs in life for healthy individuals, given the joyous and beautiful feelings it generates. However, when someone experiences depression, their desire for the opposite sex gradually decreases until it fades away. Hormonal factors accompanied by genetic predisposition affect this desire, influenced by neurotransmitters in the brain. However, a decrease in sexual desire is not observed in all depression patients; some may experience an annoying increase in sexual desire. This can lead to various complications on physical health (exhaustion of reproductive organs), mental health (severe stress and anxiety), behavioral aspects (masturbation, pornography), and social aspects (divorce in marriage).
• Panic attacks and severe fear: Depressed patients experience intense fear without any real cause, overshadowing all other psychological symptoms of depression. This fear causes the patient to fail in social interaction with others or to continue living a normal life and achieving success, as other healthy individuals do. Severe fear may manifest as panic attacks, which make the depressed patient afraid of anything, accompanied by a set of accompanying physical symptoms that they cannot endure due to the suffering and pain they cause. On the other hand, a depressed patient cannot even express this fear to others because they are already aware that the things they fear are trivial, and it would make those around them perceive them as cowardly.
• Self-blame and guilt: The most prominent primary symptoms of psychological depression shared by all depressed patients are related to self-esteem and constant self-blame. In addition to feeling guilty without committing any wrongdoing or injustice towards others, these destructive feelings are automatically generated in the brains of depressed individuals due to hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances. Unfortunately, depressed patients rarely pay attention to these negative thoughts and feelings that constantly assault them, leading most of them to contemplate suicide or engage in self-harm using sharp objects.
• Lack of pleasure and happiness: Despite attending parties, going out for a walk with friends, or hearing good news, individuals with depression do not experience joy or happiness. This is considered a symptom of psychological depression, which significantly affects the mental well-being of the individual. It is disheartening for them to see those around them at the peak of their happiness and joy, achieving more significant accomplishments while they feel helpless and incapable of doing anything, as if their efforts are futile.
• Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem: Individuals with depression also suffer from a loss of self-confidence and self-esteem. Despite their own achievements, they tend to belittle them and view the accomplishments of others, even if they are lesser, as great achievements. They perceive others as superior in every aspect and possessing a strong personality compared to their own weak personality, as they believe. These feelings are, of course, symptoms of psychological depression, but the depressed individual may not realize them.
• Sense of worthlessness and lack of value: Another common symptom of psychological depression among patients is a sense of worthlessness and lack of value in society. They feel rejected, unloved, and believe that everyone deliberately persecutes them. The consequences of this can manifest in the transformation into an introverted person who avoids socializing or engaging in conversations with others. This eventually leads them into the dark forest of depression from which they can only emerge if they are fortunate enough to have a fresh start.
• Apathy and loss of interest in life: Compared to the previous psychological symptoms, the stage of apathy and loss of interest in life is only reached by those who have experienced the symptoms of depression for many years and have lost the energy of patience, struggle, and determination in seeking treatment. This often leads most of them to ultimately resort to suicide or develop mental illnesses that are difficult to treat.
• Inability to forgive others: Typically, individuals with depression are kind and gentle in their interactions with others. However, attempts by some individuals to provoke a depressed person can leave a lasting impact on their memory and make them unable to forgive the person who caused them harm. It's not because they don't want to forgive and reconcile, but rather it's the depression that prevents them, with the involvement of chemical substances that specifically hinder their ability to do so.
• Loss of desire to communicate and express oneself: This is also a common symptom of psychological depression that all depressed individuals experience, without exception. It involves a loss of interest in engaging in communication and expressing oneself. The individual may prefer silence and immerse themselves in negative thoughts and conversations that circulate within their mind. This is not a conscious decision, but rather a result of chemical imbalances in the brain that dictate their preferences and dislikes.
• Mental fatigue and loss of positive energy: All depressed individuals suffer from a severe loss of mental energy, which refers to the ability to persevere despite failures. This loss of energy also drains the positive and joyful spirit, making them vulnerable to other psychological symptoms of depression.
• Inability to forget negative events: Depressed individuals often have a tragic memory that can retain negative events to a significant degree and automatically recall them. This can cause a cascade of emotions such as anxiety, fear, panic attacks, and many other psychological symptoms of depression. In addition to the psychological symptoms, these individuals may also experience physical symptoms that intensify when recalling these negative situations and events.
• Thoughts of suicide and self-harm: According to the World Health Organization, depression has become the leading cause of suicide worldwide. Depressed individuals may not consciously think about self-harm or revenge, but current neuroscience suggests that a combination of factors and events, including psychological symptoms of depression reaching a certain level of intensity and pain, can lead these individuals to consider self-destructive actions without hesitation or prior thought.
• Unexplained desire to cry: In the early stages of depression, individuals may experience an intense and daily urge to cry, especially between afternoon and evening. This period coincides with the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which triggers this sudden and overpowering urge to cry without any apparent reason. However, not all depressed individuals experience this phenomenon. Women, for example, have more social acceptance when it comes to crying compared to men, who are viewed differently by society.
• Hatred towards family and society: Psychological symptoms of depression make it difficult for depressed individuals to establish good relationships with their family and social environment. They may feel misunderstood and unable to share their worries and problems, which leads them to develop resentment and hostility towards family members and society. However, there are exceptions, as some depressed individuals exhibit a strong love for others, including their family and community, and interact with them with great kindness.
• Feelings of regret and remorse: Individuals with depression often experience feelings of regret and remorse, even for the smallest things, believing that they are the main cause of all the bad events happening in the world. Even if they try to dismiss these feelings, they persist for weeks or months. However, not all depressed individuals share this experience. Some have the ability to change their feelings and improve their mental state.
• Sense of injustice and oppression: Psychological symptoms of depression can have a profound impact on an individual, causing them to feel a sense of injustice and oppression even for trivial matters. Sometimes, this feeling may be justified due to external factors. However, healthy individuals react naturally, unlike depressed individuals whose reactions towards scenes of injustice and oppression may be exaggerated. Nevertheless, not all depressed individuals experience this, as some have the ability to control their mental state and return to their natural state more quickly.
• Personality disturbance: Personality is defined as a collection of emotions that lead to different behaviors from one person to another. Since the symptoms of psychological depression manifest as an emotional disturbance, the personality of a depressed individual will also be affected. Due to various factors, the individual's personality may transition into a state of severe sadness. However, some individuals with depression have the ability to adjust their emotions and regulate their personality.
• Delusions: As the severity of psychological depression symptoms intensifies in some depressed individuals, they may begin to experience delusions about things that may not actually exist in reality. This may indicate the onset of complications associated with depression, such as developing mental disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, not all patients are affected in this way; it typically occurs in individuals who have a genetic predisposition to mental illnesses.
• Depersonalization: When the symptoms of psychological depression reach their maximum intensity, the human subconscious may initiate depersonalization, where the individual starts to have illusions and feels detached from their true identity, as if they are separate from their own body. They begin to observe themselves from a distance. These signs are highly concerning and may indicate the onset of a mental illness. However, they only occur in individuals who have the necessary genetic conditions and not in all depressed patients.