Table of Contents
- 1 Signs and Symptoms of Depression
- 1.1 Psychological Symptoms of Depression
- 1.2 Behavioral Symptoms of Depression
- 1.3 Psychosis and Depression
- 1.4 Can the Signs and Symptoms of Depression Vary?
- 1.5 Signs of Postpartum Depression
- 1.6 Suicide Risk and Depression
- 1.7 Anxiety and Depression
- 1.8 Depression and Other Mental Health Problems
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
A patient must have at least five of the symptoms shown above to be diagnosed with depression. These symptoms can last for a very long period of time, sometimes even years. Depression effects the lives of those who suffer from it and it can interfere with social relationships, making it difficult to maintain relationships and interact with others. Some symptoms can be very disabling and interfere with the ability to function. In severe cases, people may find it difficult to eat, get out of bed, and maintain hygiene.
Those who suffer from depression often experience episodes, or time periods when symptoms appear. These episodes can be recurrent, longstanding, or chronic, and can feel as though they will never subside. Episodes can be brought on by a specific event or simply occur randomly.
Symptoms of depression can be either psychological or behavioral.
Psychological Symptoms of Depression
A person suffering from depression often feels:
- Agitated and irritable
- Upset and tearful
- Guilty or worthless
- Numb and empty
- Cannot find pleasure in things they usually enjoy
- Isolated from other people
- Unable to relate to other people
- Unreality sense
- No self-confidence
Behavioral Symptoms of Depression
People who suffer from depression often behave differently than those who don’t. Behavioral symptoms of depression include:
- Self-harming or suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Avoiding previously enjoyed social activities and events
- Finding it difficult to speak to others
- Finding it difficult to think clearly
- Unable to remember and concentrate on something
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
- Losing interest in sexual activities
- Feeling constantly tired
- No appetite and too much eating
- Unexpected weight gain or loss
- Physical pains with no physical cause
- Being restless or agitated
- Lack of eye contact
- Appearance of preoccupation
- Hand wringing
- Pulling hair
- Psychomotor agitation (slowed speech, long pauses, sighs)
- Defiance and belligerence
- Slowed body movements
After reviewing the signs symptoms, patient history, and family history, the medical professional may continue with lab tests, which are used to rule out another physical condition that may be causing the signs of depression. Additionally, it’s important that the patient inform the professional of any medications they are taking.
Psychosis and Depression
In addition to behavioral and psychological symptoms, those who suffer from depression can also experience psychotic symptoms, typically in very severe cases.
The most common psychotic symptoms of depression are delusions and hallucinations. These are most often linked to the thoughts and feelings of the individual, in some way. For example, paranoia and hearing voices could occur if one has committed an unspeakable crime.
Delusions and hallucinations can feel real to the individual experiencing them, even to the extent that the individual does not understand that they are symptoms of depression. This can be extremely frightening. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help and support if experiencing these symptoms.
Psychotic symptoms can often lead to new diagnosis, but this is not always the case. Therefore, it is important to consult a medical professional about such events. They will help to determine the right treatment and offer the support needed.
Can the Signs and Symptoms of Depression Vary?
Symptoms of depression can vary based on numerous factors, such as age and gender.
- Depression in men. Men diagnosed with depression are less likely to acknowledge the feelings of hopelessness and self loathing than women. Men usually base their symptoms on irritability, fatigue, sleep problems, and loss of interest in both hobbies and work. Additionally, they are more likely to experience aggression, reckless behavior, anger, and substance abuse.
- Depression in women. Women who are depressed are more likely to experience feelings of guilt, overeating, excessive sleeping, and weight gain when compared to men. Symptoms of depression can worsen due to hormonal changes during menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy. Up to 1 in 7 women experience symptoms of depression after childbirth. This is also referred to as postpartum depression.
- Depression in older adults. When suffering from depression, older adults often suffer more from physical symptoms rather than emotional ones. The most common symptoms relate to things like unexplained pains and aches, fatigue, and problems with memory. Older adults are more likely to neglect their appearance and stop taking the recommended medications as a result of depression.
- Depression in teens. Irritability, agitation, and anger are most noticeable when it comes to teens suffering from depression. Teens often complain of stomachaches, headaches, or similar physical pains when depressed.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression develops after childbirth, is often characterized by loss of contact with reality, and can be very severe. Women who suffer from this disorder are at a higher risk of suicide and infanticide.
Postpartum depression is a disorder that develops suddenly. It usually develops within the first two weeks after the baby is born. The most common signs of postpartum depression include:
- Delusions (paranoia)
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are unreal)
- Suicidal actions or thoughts
- Extreme anxiety and agitation
- Mood swings
- Inability to sleep
- Inability or refusal to eat
- Bizarre behavior
- Thoughts of harming the child
Suicide Risk and Depression
Depression is a common cause of suicide due to feelings of deep despair and long-lasting feelings of hopelessness. If you are suffering of depression or know someone who is, it’s important to watch for:
- Talking about harming or killing one’s self
- Unusual preoccupation with dying or death
- Strong feelings of being trapped
- Strong feelings of being hopeless
- Acting recklessly
- Calling people to say goodbye
- Sudden switch from depression to acting calm and happy
- Getting affairs in order and tying up some loose ends
When people feel low and depressed, they may use self-harming behaviors to cope with these feelings. If this is the case with someone you know, you should seek help immediately. The most common way to solve this is by talking about it.
Anxiety and Depression
Depression and anxiety are often experienced together. Some signs of depression are also signs of anxiety. Common symptoms of depression and anxiety include:
- Being agitated
- Feeling restless
- Difficulties falling asleep
- Difficulties eating
Sometimes, treating one of the two conditions can improve the other also, but in most cases., two treatments are recommended (one for anxiety and one for depression).
Depression and Other Mental Health Problems
There are several mental health problems that can be linked to depression, such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder
If you are experiencing any of the common symptoms of depression, you should discuss this with your medical provider. After thoroughly considering your signs and symptoms, medical professionals can provide treatment that is effective and alleviate the symptoms you are facing.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression, please visit the links below:
- Mayo Clinic (2018). Depression (major depressive disorder). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356013
- National Institute of Mental Health (2018). Depression. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
- Mitchell, A. J. (2009). Clinical diagnosis of depression in primary care: A meta-analysis. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)60879-5/fulltext