Loss of interest in sex is often a sign of depression.
Disinterest in friends, family, career and life in general are also hallmarks of
depression. Depression can also be accompanied by obsessive/compulsive behaviours -
counting, constant cleaning, excessive ordering and neatness.|
Here is a checklist of clinical depression symptoms - if you find many of these apply
to you, consider seeking help.
Depressed Mood: You are sad, grumpy or irritable most or all of the time.
Loss of Interest: You are not interested in things you used to enjoy; this includes
hobbies, sex and relationships.
Diminished Ability to Concentrate: You find yourself easily distracted, or have
trouble remembering things. It may be hard for you to focus on tasks at work.
Recurrent Thoughts of Death: This is the most serious symptom of depression. The
despair can range from feeling as if others would be better off if you were dead
to actually making plans for suicide.
Sleeping Difficulties: Insomnia is a common symptom of depression. There are several
forms of insomnia; Early Insomnia, when you cannot fall asleep, Middle Insomnia, when
you awake several times during the night, or only sleep lightly and Late Insomnia
when you awake too early and cannot go back to sleep. Another form of sleeping
difficulties occurs with hypersomnia - where you feel sleepy/drowsy all the time,
despite getting enough sleep.
Like most clinical diagnoses, depression isn't the same in everyone, but if you have
several of the above symptoms, you may be clinically depressed. It's a good idea to
be examined and diagnosed by a psychiatrist or your doctor, rather than just asking
your doctor for a prescription. Often, the symptoms of depression can dictate which
medications are appropriate.
Depression is prevalent in the gay community, usually in the early pre and post-coming
out years. But often the end of a relationship, or another big change in life can trigger
depression. Beyond therapy, there are very effective medications to treat the physical
condition of depression. Treatment is not an exact science, and much to the dismay of
both doctors and patients, there is a trial period of `mix and match' between medication
and patient. But when the "fit" is good, the results can be dramatic.
Why is medication effective when therapy alone isn't? Current thinking about depression
is that it's a chemical condition in your brain. For whatever reason, genetic or
environmental, your brain develops an imbalance of certain chemicals, called neurotransmitters,
which do the business of the brain. They exist in a delicate balance, transmitting
messages between nerve cells across junctions called synapses. Two neurotransmitters
relevant to depression are serotonin and norepinephrine. They exist in a balance, but
when serotonin levels drop below normal, things begin to change. Sleep becomes difficult,
or one sleeps too deeply. Appetite can change; meaning a person overeats or doesn't
eat enough. Anxiety often increases, and thoughts can become obsessive or muddled.
Antidepressants work to restore the natural balance of these neurochemicals.
After a period of adjustment, many patients find the fog lifts and their feelings
and behaviours return to a more normal, predictable pattern.