What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression?

Feeling sad is a normal part of life. However, there are several common signs and symptoms of depression that might help you identify whether it’s time to explore professional depression treatment.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at one of the most common questions we hear – what are the signs and symptoms of depression?

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

If you are depressed, it is not your fault. Depression is a mood disorder that involves imbalances of brain chemicals. Serotonin is one of the chemicals out of balance when it comes to depression.

Several risk factors, including genetics, can cause depression. If your parents struggled with depression, you might have the genes related to the disorder. There are specific lifestyle factors that have been known to trigger depressive genes. These include substance abuse and addiction, living in an abusive environment, past trauma, long-term stressful relationships, life experiences, and chronic pain or illness.

Although acquiring depression was out of your control, getting help for depression is not. There are many treatments offering millions of people a happier, more satisfying lifestyle. You can too.

So, what are the signs and symptoms of depression?

The first step is to learn more about depression, like how it is defined.

What Is Depression?

Depression cannot be defined in a one-size-fits-all sentence. It is a very individualized disorder. Meaning, your symptoms will be different than the symptoms of others. Depression is a mood disorder that changes how you think. Depressed thoughts often lead to negative feelings, which can then lead to negative actions.

Depression is not something that happens overnight. For many, depression can take months and even years to develop, with symptoms starting as mild. The longer they are left untreated, the more severe the depression can become.

Depression can range from mild, moderate, and major. It can also be classified as atypical and seasonal.

Mild, Moderate, and Major Depression

Mild depression may go unnoticed because you attribute it to things that are happening in your life, like gaining a few extra pounds, being overwhelmed at work, having physical ailments, or just being stressed.

With moderate depression, your symptoms increase, making it harder to cope. When you could once watch a funny movie and feel your mood lift, now you can’t. Moderate depression interferes with your daily lifestyle. Logically, you know you should be happy. Mentally, you can’t seem to make yourself feel happy, no matter what you try.

Major depression can not only interfere with your life; it can take control. You prefer to spend all your time in bed or in isolation. You are plagued with negative thoughts and worries. You cry for no reason at all. While major depression is less common than mild or moderate versions, it can be devastating if left untreated.

Atypical and Seasonal Affective Disorders

Atypical depression is defined by specific characteristics and is a sub-type of major depression. Examples include weight gain, excessive sleepiness, significant problems with relationships either at work or home or both, and feeling so down and out that you feel an inability to do anything.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually associated with a decrease in the number of daylight hours, which is also why it affects most people in the fall and winter months. The less amount of daylight hours a person has, the more depressed they may feel.

There are times in your life where it is perfectly normal to feel depressed. For example, losing a loved one can make you feel sad. Over time, however, the depression will lift, and while you are still sad when you think of your loved one, you can function at work and home.

Diagnosable depression hangs around long after it should, for more than three or four months. It can start to interfere with your enjoyment of activities, relationships, and daily routines. Over time it can begin to lower your self-esteem, decrease motivation, and make it hard to feel happiness.

While depression can affect men, women, teens, and the elderly much different, there are some common signs and symptoms to look for that could signal the need for further diagnosis.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

There are many symptoms associated with depression that can interfere with daily functioning. Whether you have one sign or all, it is vital to seek treatment. Not all symptoms go away without the help of a psychiatrist or counselor.

One of the most common symptoms is a feeling of sadness that doesn’t go away. It lingers and many times makes you feel hopeless or helpless. Depression interferes with how you sleep. It can make one person oversleep yet still feel tired. It can make someone else unable to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Both poor sleep and depression can affect mood, but not in a positive way. You will most likely feel irritable and easily angered. You may even turn your anger inward and say negative statements to yourself. You may feel guilty and overly critical of yourself.

Believe it or not, depression can take the form of anxiety. It can also create body aches and pains and make it hard for you to concentrate. Your energy levels drop dramatically, you may be overly sensitive to comments made by others, lose interest in hobbies and activities you once found enjoyable, and some participate in reckless behaviors.

Unfortunately, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide or wishing you were no longer on this earth.

You do not have to feel depressed, however. As mentioned earlier, many favorable treatments can help you live a happy, fun life for many, many years.

Treatments for Depression

For many, depression treatment starts with an evaluation by a psychiatrist who can assess whether medication is needed to help control your symptoms and rebalance the chemicals in your brain. Once your symptoms have eased, your concentration will improve, and your mind will be clearer.

Depending on the severity of your depression, your doctor may choose traditional anti-depressants or more modern treatments. A newer, successful treatment includes ketamine treatment.

Individual therapy will speed up your recovery time. You will learn techniques to cope with and change lifestyle factors that contribute to your depression. Individual therapy can include cognitive-behavioral or dialectical treatment, as well as trauma therapies if necessary.

Finally, group therapy sessions are offered to help you with recovery. Here you can find support in winning the battle of depression.

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