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Recognizing the Big Black Dog.

Signs : Symptoms : Depression

These are more of  my observations and thoughts, my purpose for writing this post is to help those of us living around people with depression to recognize their symptoms and reach out.

The words in italics are those of people who are suffering with depression

Depression or the black dog as it is sometimes called is one of those insidious illnesses that can creep up on its prey without any warning or it may take the slower course and gradually impact its victim without them being fully aware of what is happening.

It reveals no obvious symptoms to begin with but slowly works away at the inner being of its subjects. There is no wound or cough or muscle wastage to give any clues as to its presence but there is a deep sense that something is not right.  You can’t quite put your finger on it but it’s there lurking in the background of your being.

Some people will succumb to its imposition much sooner than others and it will affect them differently but however it sneaks in it will still take a hold on the sufferers ability to function normally.

I mentioned in the first post that everyone has black or grey days from time to time. This is perfectly normal. What is a concern is if those grey days become black days and stay around for more than two weeks at a time. Sometimes the weight of its presence will be more than a person can bear and they might attempt to deal with it in a manner which is not helpful to them or the people around them.

The person affected by the big black dog may not be self aware of what is happening and so it is up to others around them to note the changes and monitor them.

In Australia we have a movement called RUOK which is usually marked by a designated day when people are encouraged to ask people around them if they are OK. This is a good idea but we need to be aware of people we interact with every day not just one day in the year. Therefore it is important to watch for tell tale signs that the black dog has bitten.

What are those Signs?

The first one we will notice is changes in a persons normal  behavior.

They don’t want to go out and be in the company of others, preferring to stay at home and mull about on the couch or in their bedroom. Things they used to enjoy doing no longer have any appeal and when asked if they would like to join you for a party or night out decline and come up with some lame excuse.

“I’ve had depression for a couple of years now. It comes and it goes. And recently I’ve felt pressure in my chest, tired all the time, don’t want to get up for anything, losing interest in things I like, and not even wanting to hear music without feeling extra sad. I know I’m just having that flash of depression coming back. I just wish it had a reason to come instead of it happening randomly and interrupt my daily life.”

Another sign to watch for is mood swings. They might become frustrated and then display outbursts of anger which were previously uncharacteristic.

Things are not getting done, simple tasks or chores become like mountains that they just don’t want to climb. They become unproductive and waste away time which exacerbates the situation even further. Things that they would once breeze through are put in the too hard basket and chores just pile up.

They become very negative about everything, their own capabilities as well as everything happening around them. The world is doomed.Their focus changes from the positive to the negative aspects of life.

“I really want to end my self no one will care weather I’m gone or not no body will care😭😭😭 I can’t deal with bullying anymore I’m done”

They may be constantly tired and probably not sleeping well.

“Sleeping is the only thing I enjoy now. When I’m asleep I’m in a dream and a different world.”

“33 years old with no health, no job and zero personal life since ever…thank you universe …sleep is my only way to stop thinking all that.”

Alcohol or drugs might become their friend and also their enemy. When you see someone who was not a consumer of drugs or alcohol previously but begins to indulge more than normal it is time to take notice and ask the question “Are you OK?”

Perhaps there is unexplained weight loss because they are not eating properly and show no real interest in food.

Signs and symptoms of depression
Signs of Depression

 

A lack of concentration might be evident and they will not be able to stay focused on any one thing for any amount of time. Everything will either bore them or frustrate them and they end up just lying around on the couch switching from one program to another trying to find something which will stimulate them.

“I suffer from this, because I lost a lot of interest like drawing and music and I feel nothing but sadness and sorrow inside I cry everyday with no one knowing I try to say but I cant”

I can go on and list more clues for you to be aware of but mostly it is wise to note when we see extreme and lasting changes which may seem to have no apparent explanation.

It may be several of the above signs which concern you regarding your friend or family member. The problem is they seldom can accept a diagnosis of depression as being the cause or they just cannot see the changes in themselves. It is a sensitive area to confront someone about but if you are concerned for their well being you need to consider the best course of action . If you fail to act and they take some drastic action you will struggle to come to terms with the consequences.

“I haven’t felt this way before, I mean yes, depressed, but not with this intensity, I have thought about death sometimes, but I really don’t want to die. I just wonder if I die, everything will be done, no more pain, but I won’t be able to enjoy the life I want, and my mom, I couldn’t dare to make her suffer. But, I feel trapped, I feel I can’t get out of myself, I wish I could have a little moment of happiness, but it’s impossible, nothing makes me happy, not even things like music, and I don’t have friends, every time I want to hold a conversation I feel people think I am awkward and pathetic. I don’t know what to do, I feel I’m going crazy.”

What we really need to do is be aware of each other. Note changes which become a pattern in a persons life over time and choose an appropriate time and place to have a chat about it.  We will talk more about that in another post.

This has to be approached with a great deal of care and thought and not be taken lightly.

If you would like to share your thoughts or experience to this article  please leave them in the comments below.  We can help each other by sharing our experience and knowledge.

A burden shared is a burden halved.

 

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Comments

    • Sujandar Mahesan
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    This is a well researched and amazing article which is very useful and it made me think about the topic real hard. When I found this article and realized how important this topic is I read through the whole the article and It was just really informational for me personally.

    Thank you for sharing this article with us.

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you for reading this article and for your comments Sujandar.  There seems to be a real epidemic of people suffering depression in one way or another and we need to be looking out for them.  We can make the world a better place by bringing sunshine to others. 

    • Priya
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    There are several elderly people around me and I do wonder at times if they are depressed. It is so hard to tell if it is depression or old age! Elderly people often get irritated and frustrated perhaps because they are not able to do things they were previously able to do. Also loneliness might make them feel low. 

    I know an elderly person who keeps talking of death, is that a sign of depression or just old age? 

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Priya I think you have hit on a largely overlooked section of the community who might be suffering depression. 

      Many of them have good reason to feel depressed  because their families may have discarded them or many of their friends may already have died and they are lonely or  as you have suggested they are frustrated because they can no longer do the things they used to do..

      If you do know some elderly people like that I would encourage you to reach out to them, they might just need to know that someone values them or cares about them. Imagine how you might feel when you are old.

      I am getting older myself but today I chatted to another older lady who is really struggling with the decreased physical functioning of her body and the fact that most of her family have abandoned her. It is really sad to come across people like that but if you can make a difference in their lives I would really encourage you to do so. It will not only bless them and make their lives happier but it will bring blessing to you too. 

    • Chris
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    Depression is certainly a hidden monster, especially in people that have never experienced it before – I went through several years in my early thirties with it and I refused to recognise the signs, dark times. 

    I eventually decided that exercise was a viable way out – so I began running up to 5 miles every day, and it changed my mindset almost immediately. What are your thoughts on exercise for depression?

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Chris thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I think I mentioned exercise as a good response in the first article but you are right it does help. However I have to say that some people will just cover their depression by throwing themselves into something like running to the point where it  is an escape from reality and they kind of hide in it. However exercise is still the best therapy for almost any illness and will certainly do a lot mor good thann harm. It worked well for you and you might be able to use that experience to help others who are struggling with depression.  Invite them to join you for a run. 

    • Strahinja
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    Hello and thank you for this informative article. Spotting first signs of depression is really important because most of the people, including me, are unaware when they first show up. Usually we mix depression with feeling bad or not so cheerful as we used to be. However, we keep forgetting that if this state continue for too long – we have some form of depression.

    If we oversee this also, we can easily fall into more deeper states of depression. Thank you so much for sharing this and reminding me that we have to care about emotions. 

    Best regards,

    Strahinja

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      You are not alone in having experienced some depression, most of us do at some stage in our lives and you have recognized the fact that it is when it goes on for an extended period of time that it becomes a real issue that requires some help. 

      Thank you for commenting Strahinja, being aware will help you to help others. 

    • Jay
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    The feeling of being depressed can really not be understood by someone that has never been depressed.  From experience, I have noticed that those that are depressed really need to be handled with care because like you said, those that are depressed would not admit to the fact that they are suffering from depression because I know when I was suffering from depression and I was told about it, I refused to admit that I was actually suffering from depression but lucky for me, I had a caring friend that helped me to break out of this illness and I was able to get back to enjoying life once more 

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Jay thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad you had a friend who was able to help you through it. You are right that people don’t like to admit to or talk about their depression because there has been a certain stigma attached to it, but thankfully that is changing now as people become more accepting of it as an illness rather than seeing it as an attitude.

    • mzakapon
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    Hi, this is a nice article about perfect depression. I have some experience on it when one of my best friend was in big depression. He was first too much aggressive and dares to talk with any one about rules and regulations. But once upon a time, he fell in a victim of big depression. He behaved abnormally like a mad person. But when he was taken care of his family member he recovered and leaded a normal life again. So what I believe that to stay with our close relatives, friends and family members is important factor while facing such type of depression. 

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you for your comments and I am pleased to hear your friend is back on track. It is important for family members to look out for each other and try to understand what the depressed person is going through without being judgemental. of them 

    • Tsquare
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    This is the post for the season. Depression has come to stay in our society and the devil is using it to destroy many people’s life. Recently a popular DJ in Nigeria committed suicide all because of depression. In fact he has left a note of depression and attempt to kill himself four hours on social media before he finally killed himself. Within that four hours no body care about him or came to his rescue. So he believe nobody cares for him either alive or dead. Depression is a difficult experience. It makes this life worth nothing and there is a spirit telling you to end it all at once. 

    Since social media has become an important part of mechanisms controlling our society hence we need to be careful with the way we use the social media. The social bully is getting increasing daily. 

    I really you for taking your time to write this article. I will try and share it on my social Media so that people can learn one or two things.

    Thanks. 

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you Tsquare for your thoughts and comments. The incident you mentioned does indeed show how serious the problem is and that we do need to value each other and be aware of the signs of depression in those around us so that we can bring a little ray of sunshine into their lives before it is too late.

      Too many of our young people have been impacted by bullying via social media and the vulnerable ones may not cope with it and do just what that DJ did in Nigeria. 

    • Stephen
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    Hey friend,

    Depression can be very strange, especially when you don’t notice it and others around you don’t care enough to find out what is really worrying you. In my part of the world, it is very difficult to know that a person is going through depression.

    Even though he or she may be experiencing all these signs and may need some help. All people do is to talk negatively about the person. They will speak about you as not being friendly or isolating yourself, instead of getting to know the reason behind why you’re doing all that.

    I was very glad when I came across your article, thanks a lot for sharing with us. I have bookmarked it and I will share it with those who’re close to me so they can also benefit from it.

    Stephen.

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you for your response to my post Stephen. You are right, depression has been stigmatized and people have been afraid to share their thoughts and feelings. This is particularly true of the male members of society because they are not so comfortable sharing their emotions, also it is not considered to be “tough or masculine” to have such feelings let alone talk about them.

      Do come back to the site because I will be adding some strategies and tips on how to deal with depression and how to help someone through it. 

    • Matthew
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    I have been suffering with anxiety and depression for 2 years now and although I take medication for it I still get some bad days.

    I have never heard it called “The Black Dog” though so that was new to me

    When I first fell ill I really didn’t know what was wrong as it came out of the blue, I wouldn’t leave the house, couldn’t answer the phone, open letters, or even make simple decisions like deciding on what to eat (when I did eat)

    Depression can happen to anyone so always look out for the signs you pointed out here

    Thanks for a very interesting read

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you for your honesty Matthew. It takes a lot of courage to be honest about how you are dealing with life situations .

      I have a friend who worked through depression himself and following on from that he started a group called “White Dog Kayaking”  He takes men out in kayaks and talks to them about their feelings and gets them to confront the Black Dog.

      Your symptoms are very typical of someone suffering depression whilst medication helps you also need to have someone you can vent your feelings with whenever you feel the black dog breathing down your neck. 

    • Henry
    • January 7, 2019
    Reply

    Hi! Thank you very much for this post! The first step to help another person is to understand their condition. And I’m really impressed how little I knew or understood about depression. In my mind it was unconceivable for a person to become depressed without having a clear reason. We may all have a grey day once in a while, but next day we’re fresh and viewing things from another, more constructive view point. But becoming randomly depressed has been hard for me to understand. Thank you very much for explaining these issues in a language we can all comprehend.

      • admin
      • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Thank you Henry for your response. Most people  see depression as a mind over matter issue and can be very intolerant of the person suffering from it. This attitude only serves to make the depressed person go deeper and is not at all helpful. Depression is not serious when it is only for a day here or there, when it becomes evident that the person is not able to dig themselves out of it we need to understand they have a serious problem and it needs attention without condemnation. 

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