Do you think you might have depression? Here are some of the causes, signs, and symptoms of depression to look for—and tips for getting the help you need.
What is depression?
Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair seize you and just won’t leave, The possibility is that you may be suffering from depression. More than just sadness in response to life’s struggles and obstacles, depression alters how you think, feel, and function in daily life. It can impede your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. Just trying to get through the day can be burdensome.
While some people define depression as “living in a black hole” or experiencing a feeling of inevitable doom, others feel motionless, absurd, and apathetic. Men, in particular, might feel indignant and restless. However, you experience depression, left untreated it can evolve into a serious health condition. But it’s crucial to remember that feelings of helplessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation.
No matter how hopeless and unfortunate you may feel, you can always get better. By comprehending the cause of your depression and understanding the different types and symptoms of depression, you can take the first steps to feel better and overcoming the problem.
More to read: How to fight depression
Could it be depressions?
Being unhappy isn’t the same as being depressed. Depression is a term often used loosely to explain how we feel after a terrible week at work or when we’re going through a breakup. But major depressive disorder — a type of depression — is much more sophisticated. Particular symptoms of depression specify whether it’s a depression or the sadness we all sometimes experience in life.
Determining if continual, unshakable dark feelings are a result of depression can be the first step toward healing and recovery. Read through these warning signs to see if it’s time for you to see a mental health professional.
Causes of depression
Doctors haven’t identified exact causes of depression. They think it may be a combination of things, including:
Brain chemistry. Chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters to play an important part in your overall mood. When you are depressed, it might be because these chemicals aren’t functioning the way they should.
Brain structure. People with depression seem to have physical differences in their brains from people who don’t have depression.
Hormones. Your hormone levels alter because of pregnancy, postpartum issues, thyroid problems, menopause, or other reasons. That can set off depression symptoms.
Genetics. Researchers haven’t yet recognized the genes that might be accountable for depression, but you’re more likely to suffer from depression if someone in your family has.
Types of depression
There are a few types of depressive disorders that doctors can diagnose, including:
Unipolar major depression
Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia, when depression lasts for at least 2 years
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, when a woman has severe mood problems before their period, more intense than typical premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, when children and teens get very cranky, angry, and often have intense outbursts that are more severe than a child’s typical reaction
Substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD), when symptoms happen while you’re taking a drug or drinking alcohol or after you stop
Psychotic depression, psychosis can involve delusions, such as false beliefs and a detachment from reality. It can also involve hallucinations — sensing things that do not exist.
Depressive disorder due to another medical condition
Other depressive disorders, such as minor depression
Your depression may have other specific features, such as:
Anxious distress. You worry so much about things that might occur or about losing control over them.
Mixed features. You have both depression and mania – intervals of elevated energy, chatting too much, and high self-esteem.
Atypical features. You can feel good after joyous events, but you also feel hungrier, need to sleep so much, and are sensitive to rejection.
Catatonia. You can’t move your body normally. You might be still and unresponsive or have uncontrollable movements.
Peripartum depression. Your symptoms begin during pregnancy or after giving birth.
Seasonal pattern. Your symptoms get worse with changes in the seasons, especially the colder, darker months.
Read more -> 8 common types and symptoms of depression
Signs and symptoms of depression
The DSM-5 recognizes various different types of depressive disorders. The two most common types include clinical depression, also referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), and persistent depressive disorder (PDD). People with PDD often suffer from the same type of symptoms of depression as those with MDD, but they are typically less severe and last longer.
There are over a thousand different combinations of symptoms of depression that could lead to an MDD diagnosis. If you realize the signs that you or someone you may know have depression, professional help may be warranted. Depression is treatable with medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two.
Below are 8 common symptoms of depression.
1. Decreased interest
Depression can suck the pleasure or enjoyment out of the things you love and adore. A decrease in interest or withdrawal from activities and things that you once looked forward to — sports, hobbies, or going out with friends — is yet another indicative sign and symptoms of depression. It is also known as anhedonia.
Symptoms of anhedonia can be halved into the following two categories:
Physical anhedonia: Those with physical anhedonia are less able to experience sensory pleasures. For example, meals you once enjoyed now taste bland. Sex may not feel satisfying or you may lose interest in it.
Social anhedonia: People with social anhedonia might experience decreased pleasure from social situations. For example, someone who used to enjoy meeting up with their friends for brunch is now uninterested in attending these get-togethers or returning phone calls.
2. Appetite changes
Another common symptom of depression is a change in how much you eat. For some people, this implies a loss of appetite. You may have to make yourself eat because eating has totally lost its appeal. Or maybe you simply don’t have the stamina and energy to prepare meals.
Feelings of sorrow or worthlessness can also lead to overconsumption of foods. In these cases, food is generally being used as a coping mechanism. You may find that food heightens your mood, but when the momentary pleasure of eating is gone, you reach for more food to quell your feelings.
One study followed thousands of men and women for 11 years. Those who reported feelings of depression and/or anxiety during that time had larger changes in their weight and a greater chance of being diagnosed as obese.
Hunger is a biological need to eat while appetite is simply to desire to eat. A loss of appetite is when, despite hunger and your body’s ongoing need for nutrients, you have no desire to eat.
3. Sleep disturbances
Sleep disturbance is existing in as many as 90% of people with depression. It can take the shape of either trouble sleeping (insomnia) or excessively sleeping (hypersomnia).
Insomnia is the most common and is estimated to happen in nearly 80% of people with depressive disorder. With insomnia, people may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Less frequently, in approximately 15% to 25% of cases, people with depression discover themselves sleeping too much. This is more likely in younger people.
Sleep problems can be both a cause of depression and a symptom of depression. Thus, enhancing your ability to sleep is vital for making you feel better now and lessening your likelihood of a future depression relapse.
4. Disturbance in psychomotor
Psychomotor skills are skills where movement and thinking are combined. This contains things like balance and coordination, such as when picking a small thing up off the ground or threading a needle.
Psychomotor disturbance is commonly classified as either psychomotor agitation or psychomotor retardation.
Psychomotor agitation: This involves excessive motor activity linked with a feeling of inner turmoil or tension. The activity is usually pointless and repetitive and includes behaviors such as pacing, trembling, hand-wringing, and an inability to sit still.
Psychomotor retardation: The opposite of psychomotor agitation, this entails slowed speech, thinking, and body movements. This can impede everyday life in several ways, from signing your name to getting out of bed to even keeping the conversation.
Persistent feelings of fatigue and exhaustion can be symptoms of depression, of both persistent depressive disorder and major depressive disorder. This reduced energy, which can correlate to feeling tired most if not all of the time, can interfere with your capacity to function normally.
Maybe you don’t feel well enough to look after your children or look after your housework. Maybe the fatigue is enough that you need to call in sick at work a lot because you can’t get out of bed. The fatigue that comes with clinical depression can sometimes feel irresistible.
6. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Depression can put an adverse spin on everything, including the way you see yourself. You may think of yourself in unappealing and unrealistic ways, such as feeling as if you are worthless.
You may also find that have difficulty letting a past mistake go, developing into feelings of guilt. You might become distracted with these “failures,” personalize trivial events, or believe that minor mistakes are proof of your inadequacy.
An example of this would be a relationship that broke off after you had a quarrel with your partner and said some terrible things. This could lead you to consider yourself the cause of the breakup while potentially resisting other problems in your relationship, such as a partner who is abusive or a nasty communicator.
Unreasonable, inappropriate guilt and feelings of worthlessness are common symptoms of depressive disorder. In some cases, the feeling of guilt may be so drastic that it leads to delusion and misconception, which is an inability to see things for what they really are, therefore holding onto false beliefs.
7. Depressed mood
Depressed mood is consistent with both major depression and persistent depressive disorder. In major depression, a person feels depressed most of the day. Children or adolescents, on the other hand, may appear more irritable than sad.
A person with a depressed mood may report feeling sad or “absurd,” or may cry often. Having a low mood is one of the two core symptoms which is used to diagnose depression.
People with PDD encounter a depressed mood more days than not for at least two years. As with MDD, children with PDD may seem more irritable than depressed. However, for a PDD diagnosis, they must undergo this for at least one year.
8. Difficulty concentrating
Both major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder involve difficulty concentrating and deciding. People who has depression may realize this in themselves, or others around them may see that they’re struggling to think clearly.
This effect has been seen especially in older adults. They may notice that they’re having trouble processing thoughts quickly and associate their symptoms to cognitive decline.
Periodic thoughts of death
Periodic thoughts of death that go beyond the fear of dying are attributed with major depressive disorder. An individual with depression disorder may think about suicide, make a suicide attempt, or create a specific plan to kill themselves.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than nine million adult Americans have suicidal thoughts annually. Additionally, these thoughts are highest for those between the ages of 18 and 25
Depression and suicide risk
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The intense sadness and anguish that accompany depression can make suicide feel like the only way to flee the pain. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously and watch for the warning signs:
Talking about killing or hurting one’s self
Expressing intense feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
Acting hastily, as if they have a death wish (e.g. driving their cars so fast)
Calling or texting people just to say goodbye
Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy
If you believe a friend or family member has suicidal thoughts, express your concern and seek help instantly. Conversing openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.
How symptoms of depression vary with gender and age
Depression often differs according to age and gender, with symptoms varying between men and women, or young people and older adults.
Depression in children
Childhood depression is not like the normal “blues” and everyday emotions most kids feel. If your child is unhappy, it doesn’t certainly mean they have depression. It’s when the sadness stays day after day that depression may be a problem. Disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life may also be signs of a problem.
Depression in men
Depressed men are less inclined to acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and despair. Instead, they are inclined to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies. They’re also more likely to experience symptoms such as anger, aggression, reckless behavior, and substance abuse.
Depression in women
Women are inclined to suffer from depression symptoms such as noticeable feelings of guilt, unnecessary sleeping, overeating, and weight gain. Depression in women is also impacted by hormonal factors during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. In fact, postpartum depression affects up to 1 in 7 women experience depression following childbirth.
Depression in teens
A lot of teens feel unhappy or moody. When the sadness lingers for more than 2 weeks and a teen has other symptoms of depression, there may be a problem. Talk to your doctor and discover if your teen may be depressed. There is helpful treatment that can enable teens move beyond depression as they grow older.
Depression in older adults
Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression: things like fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, and memory problems. They may also disregard their personal appearance and stop taking critical medications for their health.
Watch for these signs if your child or teen starts taking antidepressants. In some cases, people under 25 may have more suicidal thoughts in the first weeks of taking these medicines or when they take a different dose.
In order to diagnose you with depression, your doctor will use several methods, including:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will examine your general health to see if you might be dealing with another condition.
- Lab tests. For example, you may have bloodwork done to examine certain hormone levels.
- Psychiatric evaluation. Your doctor will be interested in your mental health and will ask about your thoughts, emotions, and behavior patterns. You may also fill out a questionnaire.
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The American Psychiatric Association records the criteria for depression in this manual. Your doctor may scan your symptoms against it to see if you fit the standard.
If you or someone you know has symptoms of the condition, talk to your doctor. They can evaluate you and offer you treatment or refer you to a mental health professional.
The type of treatment your doctor proposes will depend on your symptoms and how serious they are. You may need one or more of the following:
Medication. Antidepressant medications (in combination with therapy) are helpful for most people who has depression. There are various types of antidepressants. You may have to try various kinds before you locate the one that works best for you. You may require a combination of two. Or your doctor may also prescribe an additional type of medication to enable your antidepressant work best, such as a mood stabilizer, antipsychotic, anti-anxiety medication, or stimulant medication.
Psychotherapy. Talking to a mental health professional on a regular basis about your depression and other problems enables treat the symptoms. Different methods are available, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and talk therapy.
Hospital or residential treatment. If your depression is severe enough that you’re having trouble taking care of yourself or may harm yourself or others, you may need psychiatric treatment in a hospital or residential facility.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This brain stimulation therapy passes electric currents through your brain to help your neurotransmitters work better. Typically, you wouldn’t use this therapy unless antidepressants aren’t working or you can’t take them for other health reasons.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Your doctor typically suggests this only after antidepressants haven’t worked. This treatment uses a coil to send magnetic pulses through your brain to help stimulate nerve cells that regulate mood.