What are the signs of Depression?

Published May 24th, 2022 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Erik Rivera

Depression is a serious mental illness that can impact your life in a number of ways.

It is important to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of depression so that you can get help if you need it.

Depression can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness and it can also lead to problems with sleep, appetite, and concentration along with several other symptoms.

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some treatment options for this condition.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental illness that can cause a range of emotional and physical symptoms.

It is more than just feeling sad, having an occasional depressed mood, or going through a tough time and is a serious medical condition that requires treatment by your doctor or mental health professional.

You can get depression at any age but it often starts in your teens or early adulthood.

signs of depression image

Clinical depression is different from the normal ups and downs that everyone experiences from time to time.

With clinical depression, the symptoms last for at least two weeks or longer and they interfere with your ability to function in your day-to-day life.

What are the different types of depression?

Not all depression is the same, and there are several different types of it. The most common types of depression include:

  • Major depression, also called major depressive disorder, this is the most common type of depression and it can cause all the signs and symptoms listed below
  • Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia, is less severe than major depression but it can last for a longer period of time, often two years or more
  • Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, this type of depression can cause mood swings from feelings of elation ormania to feelings of sadness and despair
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is linked to the change in seasons and typically starts in the fall or winter when there is less sunlight
  • Atypical depression, can cause a number of different signs and symptoms that are not typically seen in other types of depression and you can even be happy sometimes after happy life events
  • Psychotic depression, this is a rare but serious type of depression that can cause you to lose touch with reality
  • Postpartum depression, also called peripartum depression, is a type of depression can occur after you have a baby
  • Anxious distress, is characterized by feelings of anxiety along with the signs and symptoms listed below
  • Melancholy, also called endogenous depression, is when you do not feel happy even during events that should cause celebration

What are the signs of depression?

The signs and symptoms of depression can vary depending on the type of depression you have.

Some people with depression may only experience a few signs and symptoms while others may experience many.

The most common signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, empty, worthless, or hopeless and is the most common symptom of depression
  • Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed, including sex and sports
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep and insomnia
  • Fatigue and tiredness coupled with a lack of energy
  • Irritability and having angry outbursts
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or deciding things
  • Stomach problems that do not get better
  • Suicidal thoughts and even a suicide attempt
  • Weight loss due to lack of eating or weight gain and obesity
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty letting go of past mistakes or decisions and focusing on self-blame
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Headaches or body pains that will not go away

If you have depression, it will likely interfere with your life and make it difficult to do the things you enjoy or need to do.

It is important to get help if you think you may be depressed as depression is a treatable illness.

If you or someone you know has severe depression is in danger of harming themselves, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8225). The hotline is a free, confidential service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

What are the causes of depression?

The cause of depression is not fully understood but it is thought to be a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

It is important to remember that you cannot always control the causes of depression but you can get help to manage it.

When do you get help for depression?

If you have any of the signs or symptoms of depression, see your doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible.

If you refuse to seek help from a professional, you need to talk to a friend or family member who can support you and help you make an appointment.

Depression is a real illness that can be treated by a professional and if you think you may have depression, the sooner you get help, the better.

How do doctors diagnose depression?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them.

He or she may also ask about your family history of depression, any medical conditions you have, any medications you are taking, your alcohol and drug use, and your sleep habits.

A physical exam may be done to rule out other medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

You may also be asked to complete a psychological evaluation which is done to assess your thinking, mood, and behavior.

What are the treatment options for depression?

The most common treatments for depression are medication and talk therapy, also called psychotherapy, from a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.

You may need to try different treatments or combinations of treatments to find what works best for you.

It is important to stick with the treatment even if you do not feel better right away as treatment takes time to work but it can help improve your symptoms and quality of life.

Some of the the most common medications you may be prescribed include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)

Psychotherapy is a type of talk therapy that can help you manage your depression. It can be done one-on-one or in a group setting.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that has been shown to be effective in treating depression.

Other treatment options for depression include:

  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is a type of brain stimulation therapy using electrical currents
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which another form of brain stimulation therapy but using magnetic fields
  • Light therapy, which is also called phototherapy, which is used most often if your depression is seasonal or if you can not sleep
  • Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which is a type of brain surgery that is used as a last resort when other treatments have not worked and involves implanting a device that sends regular electrical signals to your brain.

Complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, and massage therapy may also be helpful in treating depression.

From around the web: signs of depression

Reddit - Signs of Depression

Pinterest - Overcoming Depression

What are the risk factors for depression?

There are a number of risk factors for depression which include:

  • Family history of depression
  • Stressful life events such as divorce, job loss, sexual abuse, or the death of a loved one
  • Chronic medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, or thyroid problems
  • History of mental health conditions or mood disorders, for example anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or bipolar disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Pregnancy and postpartum
  • Low self-esteem or being overly critical of yourself
  • Being gay, transgendered, or bisexual and not having a supportive network of family or friends

How can I prevent depression?

There are a number of things you can do to prevent depression:

  • Get regular exercise
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Manage stress with relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation
  • Talk to someone if you are feeling down or have any concerns about your mental health

Make sure to talk to your doctor if you are feeling signs of depression. Depression is a serious condition but it is treatable and there is help available. Do not suffer in silence. Seek treatment as soon as possible to get on the road to recovery.

Summary

Depression is a serious medical condition that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.

It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at both work and home.

Depression is not a normal part of aging. If you are experiencing signs of depression, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

There are a number of effective treatments for depression, including medication, psychotherapy, and brain stimulation therapies that are available to you and it may take time to find the right treatment combination for your depression.

You can also take steps to prevent depression by getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress with relaxation techniques.

If you have anymore questions or think you may be suffering from depression, please talk to your doctor, health care provider, or mental health professional.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8225)

References and sources:

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325513

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