Depression is a mental illness and how do you know you have it? Symptoms like fever, runny nose, headache, cough are easily felt. And they provide a somewhat clear signal that one is sick with influenza. How about mental illness? Is Depression symptoms visible? Here are a few scenarios showing symptoms that seem invisible but are manifestation of a mentally ill condition, in this case Major Depression (as well as Bipolar Depression).

First scenario is I am in ‘hibernation’ mode. Unable to wake up, sleep way past noon. Barely awake to take lunch, many times I have skipped it. Takes afternoon nap after being awake for one to two hours for brunch. This pattern is persistent and it is convenient to judge I am a lazy person. I could also easily justified that ‘I am always tired.’

The second scenario is about feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness and they can be rampant and convincing. ‘There is nothing I can do,’ ‘My input would not improve the situation,’ ‘She is sick, I can’t help her to feel better,’ ‘There is no solutions we can give our clients, we will not get a contract renewal.’ Many people, including myself would say I lack perseverance and determination to find solutions, I lack positivity, I have a weakness in character. It is simply easy to judge my performance and to conclude I am powerlessly useless.

The third context is when restlessness sets in. ‘What am I supposed to do,’ ‘I can’t sit still, I better pack my bag, maybe should tidy up the dining table.’ Frustrated with inability to get things done, I become irritated at general remarks made by my family. When tolerance level goes down, irritation do escalate to anger or rage, unfortunately directed at my family, those closest to my heart. So what do I make out of this: an irritable day? Or could it be dismissed as another bad day, then it is no big deal.

These seemingly harmless feelings and behaviors, what are they when I experience them for a week, two weeks, three? Do I brush it off and/or accept this is just me – I am lazy, I am weak-willed, I have a bad temperament.

I am in the era whereby diagnosis of mental illness is mostly based on self-reported symptoms. I am fortunate that my sibling showed me a newspaper cutting about Depression and its symptoms 30 years ago. Geared with the information about Depression, though reluctant I visited my first Psychiatrist in my teenage years. Being on my own, I struggled to make sense of these common (and invisible) symptoms – tiredness, sleepiness, my anger (and rage), sense of worthlessness and at worst suicidality.

And back to the question how do one know that one might be ill mentally? In my case, I did not and could not understand the illness at that young age. For you, you can have more information about Depression, go to Depression must be given due care and treatment. Do always take charge of your mental well-being.

Should you be thinking you might be depressed, seek the advice and support of your GP as a matter of priority. If in distress and need immediate help and unable to see a GP, please visit your local A&E.

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