Signs & Symptoms of Depression

Understanding Depression

Learn About Depression

Depression is a mental health disorder that is characterized by a persistent depressed mood. This often debilitating disorder can manifest into a multitude of symptoms including extreme sadness, hopelessness, feelings of emptiness, diminished interest in things once enjoyed, and an overall loss of energy. Furthermore, those who struggle with depression may experience psychomotor agitation, changes in appetite and weight, as well as a diminished ability to think clearly or make even simple decisions. Thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts are unfortunately, also common among those who are struggling with depression.

When depression is present, regular functioning within multiple areas of life can be significantly impaired and has the potential to result in a number of ill effects. In some cases, those with severe depression are unable to even attend to basic care needs. Fortunately, while depression can be an extremely debilitating disorder, this disorder can be effectively treated. There are many different treatment options available for depression, including medication, that have helped individuals successfully overcome the symptoms of depression and go on to lead a happier future.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and Co-Occurring Disorders

Many individuals who have been diagnosed with depression are unfortunately also struggling with the symptoms of an additional mental health disorder. Some of the disorders that depression most frequently occurs with include:

  • Substance use disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Learning disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)


Depression Statistics

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 7% of all adults in the United States have experienced at least one major depressive episode within the previous 12 months. This breaks down to about 16 million individuals over the age of 18.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Depression

While there is no single cause for depression, research has identified certain factors that seem to increase an individual’s vulnerability for the development of this disorder. Some of the most commonly cited causes and risk factors include:

Genetic: Those who have first-degree relatives who have struggled with depression are two to four times more likely to develop depression at some point in their life, when compared to the general population. Heritability accounts for about 40% and the specific personality trait, neuroticism, makes up a substantial portion of this genetic risk factor.

Environmental: Adverse childhood experiences and stressful life events have been known to play a role in the development of depression, especially when an individual lacks effective coping skills. For example, being abused or neglected as a child, losing a close loved one, witnesses a crime or other traumatic events, or experiencing financial difficulties can all place an individual at an increased risk for the onset of depression.

Risk Factors:

  • Being a woman
  • Having depression as a child
  • Personal history of certain mental health conditions
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Having blood relatives with a history of depression
  • Low self-esteem, self-critical, or being overly dependent
  • Having a serious chronic illness
  • Social isolation
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Certain medications (for example, some blood pressure meds or sleeping pills)

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The signs and symptoms associated with depression will present differently in each individual who is struggling with this disorder. While one individual may have an extremely difficult time sleeping, another individual may sleep much more than normal. Some of the most common signs and symptoms experienced by those with depression include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • No longer has an interest in participating in activities once enjoyed
  • Tendency to respond to events with angry outbursts
  • Out-of-character emotional outbursts
  • Blames others
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Slowed speech and body movements
  • Frequent absences from work
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Restlessness

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Weight changes
  • Psychomotor disturbances
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decreased energy
  • General somatic complaints (body aches and pains)
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Change in sleep patterns (sleeping too much or not enough)

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Difficulty thinking
  • Hard time concentrating
  • Problems making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation
  • Memory problems

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Increased irritability
  • Exaggerated sense of frustration
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Self-hatred and/or intense self-criticism
  • Changes in temperament
  • Increased anger


Effects of Depression

Depression, especially when not properly treated, has the ability to cause a significant amount of disruption in an individual’s life. Impairment associated with the symptoms of depression can range from very mild to complete incapacitation, in which the depressed individual becomes unable to attend to even basic self-care needs. The following are among the more common effects of depression:

  • Family conflict
  • Problems with interpersonal relationships
  • Difficulties at work
  • Financial difficulties
  • Engagement in risky and dangerous behaviors
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Social isolation
  • Engagement in self-harming behaviors
  • Increased prevalence of pain and physical illness
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

At the peak of my depression, getting out of bed was a daily struggle. A friend referred me Starlite, because their treatment is the best in the area. Thanks to Starlite's compassionate and caring staff, each passing day feels brighter and I am surely but slowly starting to feel happy again.

– Joseph C.