I read this article with interest. The subject didn’t recognize that he was suffering from depression, which is perhaps all the more surprising considering that he was studying psychology at the time, and experienced the symptom of blurred vision which made him “obsessed with the fear of losing his sight”.
My mum actually pointed this article out to me, because she knew I went through something similar last year. I felt as though there were bits missing from my vision, I thought I could see mist all around me, the sun was too bright and I became hypersensitive to lights flickering. I was constantly prodding and poking at my eyes trying to get them to work right which obviously was only making things worse. This happened before I really descended into what could be identified as depression.
In the more distant past, a few times, I have also experienced the feeling of not being able to operate my hands properly and of generally losing motor coordination. I am not sure whether this may have been a depressive symptom (perhaps the closest thing on the standard inventory of symptoms is psychomotor agitation/retardation). In 2008 I went to the doctor about this and she got me to walk in a straight line and such. I don’t think I necessarily failed her tests but she sent me to a neurologist. He noticed that I had an inflamed optic nerve and thought there was a small chance it was multiple sclerosis. At this point I had a total meltdown. He sent me for an MRI but it came back clear and eventually the feelings went away. But for some time I was extremely miserable and it is all very chicken and egg.
I suppose the main point is that depression can creep up on you. You may have symptoms like this that you don’t recognize as anything other than a physical ailment. You may find yourself dropping out of life without any clear understanding of why and you may well not be sad at all. You can arrive at the brink of something catastrophic before you realise that there is something so wrong that it needs a name. As you search for it, your mind may not latch onto the possibility of depression.
Also, I know there is some doubt as to whether these diverse symtoms really refer to one syndrome or to many. Is the depression dominated by profound sadness the same as the depression characterized by a general slowing down or a feeling of illness? I think it is likely that there are underlying differences. But even if there are, there should be a broader awareness of what the thing that we call “depression” can encompass because the standard inventory of symptoms is far from comprehensive and far from descriptive. It is very easy to miss the signs and delay, or miss altogether, receiving the appropriate help.