Depression affects people in a whole variety of ways but changes in activity are a common feature. In this Sharepost I’ve outlined six of the most common changes in behavior associated with depression.
Agitation. Although we typically think of depression in terms of a general reduction or slowing of activity this isn’t always the case. Agitated depression refers to a situation where depression and restlessness co-exist. In this situation the person finds it very difficult to simply sit or lie still. Despite their feelings of depression they are on the go, and often irritable, angry, frustrated and impulsive.
Hibernation. Even outgoing people may find themselves refusing invitations or making up excuses to avoid social contact. For many millions of people this is most apparent during the winter months when long nights, short days and lack of exposure to natural daylight leave them feeling fatigued, depressed, anxious and irritable. Known as winter onset seasonal affective disorder (SAD) some experts consider SAD to be an evolutionary hangover in which some people have adapted better than others. Humans, so far as we know, have never hibernated during the winter months but in colder climates some people still appear to move very little during winter, reserving both energy and scant food supplies.
Lethargy. Most people with depression find their motivation drops through the floor. They slow down, speak more slowly, move about as if carrying a weight on their shoulders and dragging weights around their ankles. Even periods of mild depression show in facial expressions and gestures, both of which reduce in number. It becomes easier simply not to do anything. This can include getting out of bed, getting washed, eating and even drinking.
Procrastination. Pessimism and procrastination are firm buddies during depression. You may know there are things you could do to elevate your mood but your pessimism is saying it isn’t worth it, it isn’t important, helpful, useful, or it’s just too much to deal with. This fuels procrastination. If you’re a person already a little prone to putting things off depression will increase this further. At the time there may be a strange comfort in procrastination. It provides a sense of relief that you don’t need to make the effort, or perhaps that you won’t make mistakes or be judged, or any number of other issues. The down side is that it fuels depression and can add to guilt and stress as the issues pile up.
Diet. Some people go off food when their mood is low and others crave comfort foods. It’s a little unusual during depression to find that diet isn’t affected in some way, even if it’s simply the choice of foods that are preferred.
Sleep. During depression sleep can become fragmented. Lack of sleep is known to have a negative effect on mood. Patterns of sleep do however vary and some people with depression find themselves experiencing problems getting to sleep or waking too early in the morning. It is estimated that 80 percent of people with depression experience sleep problems.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.