People Often Cannot Recognize That They Have Depression

Helping Scam Victims Understand What Depression Is and Why So Many Survivors Cannot Recognize that they Have It!

Primary Category: Recovery Psychology

Author:
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  National Institute of Mental Health, and other sources

About This Article

Recognizing depression, especially at its onset, can be challenging as symptoms often develop gradually. Depression, or major depressive disorder, can affect anyone, including scam victims, presenting with persistent sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, guilt, loss of interest, fatigue, cognitive issues, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, and physical discomfort.

There are two main types: major depression, which severely impacts daily activities for at least two weeks, and persistent depressive disorder, with milder symptoms lasting at least two years. The difficulty in recognizing depression is compounded by factors like self-blame, a bleak perspective, internalized stigma, and cognitive impairment.

These elements can cause individuals to misattribute their symptoms to personal flaws or external circumstances, delaying crucial support.

If symptoms persist, consulting a healthcare provider is essential for timely intervention and recovery. Encouraging someone showing signs of depression to seek professional help is vital, as untreated depression can worsen, and peer discussions without professional guidance can increase trauma, especially for scam victims.

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People Often Cannot Recognize That They Have Depression - 2024

Recognizing if You have Depression isn’t always straightforward, particularly at its onset.

Depression does not just apply to scam victims, it can strike anyone!

Introduction

Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a serious mood disorder that can affect people in different ways. Some common signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Mood: A persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood, feelings of hopelessness or pessimism, or irritability, frustration, or restlessness
  • Emotions: Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness, low self-esteem, feeling tearful, or having suicidal thoughts
  • Interests: Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, or not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Energy: Fatigue, lack of energy, or feeling slowed down
  • Cognition: Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Sleep: Difficulty sleeping, waking too early in the morning, or oversleeping
  • Appetite: Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes

Different Types of Depression

There are two common types of depression.

Major depression includes symptoms of depressed mood or loss of interest, most of the time for at least 2 weeks, that interfere with daily activities.

Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia or dysthymic disorder) consists of less severe depression symptoms that last much longer, usually for at least 2 years.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Common signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration‚ or restlessness
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Fatigue, lack of energy, or feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, waking too early in the morning, or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not go away with treatment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts

Depression can also involve other changes in mood or behavior that include:

  • Increased anger or irritability
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Becoming withdrawn, negative, or detached
  • Increased engagement in high-risk activities
  • Greater impulsivity
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Inability to meet responsibilities or ignoring other important roles
  • Problems with sexual desire and performance

Why Do People Deny It?

Instead of hitting all at once, symptoms of depression often trickle in gradually, making it hard to pinpoint. Even when looking back, identifying a bout of major depression may not be as clear-cut as it seems.

Why? Because several aspects inherent to depression make the challenge of recognizing it far from easy.

For many individuals, these factors prolong their suffering without grasping the nature of their ordeal, hindering them from seeking the necessary support. Here are four elements contributing to this dilemma:

  1. Self-Blame: Depression frequently creates a deeply negative self-perception, sometimes escalating to self-hatred. These sentiments hinder individuals from recognizing them as symptoms of depression, as they appear distressingly valid. Amidst depression’s grip, one might perceive the issue not as thinking they’re worthless, but truly believing they are.

Similarly, other depressive symptoms might be dismissed as personal flaws; excessive sleep may be labeled as “laziness,” increased appetite as “poor self-control,” and low motivation as “lack of discipline.”

  1. Bleak Perspective: Depression often brings about a pessimistic worldview, which feels as genuine as one’s negative self-view. The despair and hopelessness accompanying low moods might seem justified to those experiencing depression.

Consequently, attributing their low spirits to depression might not occur to the sufferer as they perceive it as an accurate reflection of the world’s miserable state. This perspective blinds them to the depressive lens through which they view the world.

  1. Internalized Stigma: Despite progress, mental health diagnoses like depression still face significant stigma. Those grappling with depression may fear being viewed as “weak” or inadequate in managing their mental well-being. Such negative perceptions often lead individuals to internalize these biases, adding to their self-doubt.

When depression symptoms surface, individuals often subconsciously seek alternative explanations to evade the stigma associated with mental illness. For instance, they might attribute their lethargy and lack of motivation to poor sleep, disregarding depression as a plausible cause.

  1. Cognitive Impairment: Depression often clouds thinking and impairs decision-making abilities, making it challenging to recognize the constellation of symptoms as depression.

If you’ve been feeling persistently low or disinterested in things that once brought joy, it might be wise to consult a healthcare professional. Opening up to the possibility of depression isn’t a sign of personal failure; it’s an essential step toward finding relief. Remember, identifying the issue sooner leads to swifter intervention and recovery.

Summary

Not everyone who is depressed shows all these symptoms. Some people experience only a few symptoms, while others experience many. Depression symptoms interfere with day-to-day functioning and cause significant distress for the person experiencing them.

If you show signs or symptoms of depression and they persist or do not go away, talk to a healthcare provider. If you see signs of depression in someone you know, encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional.

Please note: depression does not just go away by itself, it needs help. Also, if you are a scam victim suffering depression symptoms, talking to other scam victims is not going to help, in fact it can make it worse and increase trauma unless you are careful and under the care of a professional therapist.

Important Information for New Scam Victims

If you are looking for local trauma counselors please visit counseling.AgainstScams.org or join SCARS for our counseling/therapy benefit: membership.AgainstScams.org

If you need to speak with someone now, you can dial 988 or find phone numbers for crisis hotlines all around the world here: www.opencounseling.com/suicide-hotlines

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at www.ScamPsychology.org

SCARS Resources:

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this and other SCARS articles are intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

Note about Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices have the potential to create psychological distress for some individuals. Please consult a mental health professional or experienced meditation instructor for guidance should you encounter difficulties.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.

Opinions

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of the Society of Citizens Against Rleationship Scams Inc. The author is solely responsible for the content of their work. SCARS is protected under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) section 230 from liability.

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