Depression is a complex experience. It isn’t easy to define or describe as each person develops depression and experiences depression differently. Because depression is so complex, there have been many different theories proposed attempting to explain what depression is and how it comes about. Some of these theories view depression as a biological disease or “medical illness,” some view it as primarily a psychological disorder, and others view it as a social phenomenon, a product of family and cultural influences. Each of these viewpoints has a contribution to make to our understanding of depression, but no single viewpoint fully explains depression. Seeking therapy for depression is an important step an individual can take to begin to feel like themselves again. Continue reading to learn about the some common symptoms of depression that many people experience.
Am I Depressed? Here Are Some Common Symptoms of Depression
Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression.
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant unintended weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning or oversleeping.
- Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions or remembering things.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.
How Depression Symptoms Vary With Gender and Age
Depression often varies according to age and gender, and the common symptoms of depression may differ between men and women, or young people and older adults.
Depressed men are generally less likely to acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness. Instead, they tend 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.
Women are more likely to experience symptoms such as pronounced feelings of guilt, excessive 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 following childbirth.
Irritability, anger, and agitation are often the most noticeable symptoms in depressed teens—not necessarily sadness. They may also complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical pains.
Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms: things like fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, and memory problems. They may also neglect their personal appearance and stop taking critical medications for their health.
Suicide Risk–If you feel you are or may become suicidal, CALL 1-800-273-8255 or go to your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Room
The feelings of hopelessness and helplessness common to depression are risk factors associated with suicidal thoughts (called suicidal ideation) or suicidal behaviors. Other common risk factors that contribute to an individual feel suicidal or acting on those thoughts:
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Mental health, such as depression
- Social isolation
- Criminal problems
- Financial problems
- Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
- Job problems or loss
- Legal problems
- Serious illness
- Substance use disorders
- Adverse childhood experiences such as child abuse and neglect
- Family history of suicide
- Relationship problems such as a break-up, violence, or loss
- Sexual violence
- Barriers to health care
- Cultural and religious beliefs such as a belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal problem
- Suicide cluster in the community
- Perceived stigma associated with mental illness or help-seeking
- Easy access to lethal means among people at risk (e.g. firearms, medications)
- Unsafe media portrayals of suicide
CALL 1-800-273-8255 or go to your nearest Urgent Care or Emergency Room or go to Suicide Prevention LifeLine
Psychotherapy. Consulting a therapist can provide you the tools to treat depression from a variety of angles and to help you find the motivation to take the action necessary. Therapy can also offer you the skills and insight to prevent the problem from coming back.
Medication may be necessary if you’re feeling suicidal or violent. But while it can help relieve symptoms of depression in some people, it isn’t a cure and is not usually a long-term solution. It also comes with side effects and other drawbacks so it’s important to learn all the facts to make an informed decision.
Contact Montgomery Counseling Group
At Montgomery Counseling Group, we will work with you to help provide the resources necessary to get you back to feeling like yourself again. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, don’t hesitate to reach out. We also invite you to browse our mental health resources for additional information.
Our goal is to individually tailor our services to your unique personal context. We use proven evidence-based techniques such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR (Eye Motion Desensitization and Reprocessing, and Clinical Hypnosis to help our patients.
We are available through our contact form or phone at (980) 949-8990.