Depression and Sensitivity
When people think of depression, they may think of the established signs and symptoms that are described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The book, created and revised by the American Psychiatric Association, outlines the expected symptoms including:
- Depressed mood
- Changes in sleep
- Changes in eating with decreased weight
- Lack of motivation and energy
- Decreased interest in pleasurable activities
- Feelings of excessive guilt and worthlessness
- Increased thoughts of death
- Decreased attention and concentration
- Feeling sped up or slowed down
Although these are the classically understood symptoms of depression, there is a level of individual and unique symptoms someone may experience during a major depressive episode. For example, some have periods experiencing psychotic symptoms where they will see or hear things that are not there.
Other people will have symptoms related to one of the nine above, but present in a different way. One such example of this is increased sensitivity.
Certainly, there are many positives associated with being appropriately sensitive, as it indicates that someone is thoughtful and compassionate, but having too much can lead to unwanted effects. This level of sensitivity can be described as a being easily insulted or harmed by the actions or words of others. Here, the harm is only psychological but still quite damaging.
Sensitivity and Self-Esteem
Excessive guilt and feelings of worthlessness are common symptoms listed by the DSM. If you investigate these symptoms and begin to expand upon them, you look to self-esteem. Self-esteem is a measure of how well you like yourself, and it goes by many names like:
People with depression commonly have low self-esteem because they feel high levels of guilt and worthlessness. If you feel like a terrible person that does terrible things, liking yourself is an impossibility.
So, what does this have to do with sensitivity?
Since people with depression have low self-esteem, they are interested in gaining praise and validation from outside sources. If someone in their life gives a compliment, it will help offset the negativity they feel about themselves, at least momentarily.
If someone makes a statement or behaves in a way that is neutral or slightly critical, the person with depression can inaccurately perceive this as very negative. They need large amounts of praise at high frequency just to feel normal. Anything less than this level will not fit their need and trigger more feelings of depression.
Someone with depression and low self-esteem grades all feedback on a curve, where each score is significantly lower. Something very positive will feel neutral. Something neutral will feel negative, and something negative will feel unbearably catastrophic.
Next page: how to improve your self-esteem to improve your sensitivity