Depression Symptoms and Warning Signs 

Are you depressed? Here are some of the signs of depression to look for—and how they can vary according to your age, gender, and other factors. 

What is depression? 

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. More than just sadness in response to life’s struggles and setbacks, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. Just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming. 

While some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men in particular can feel angry and restless. However you experience the problem, left untreated it can become a serious health condition. But it’s important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation. 

No matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. By recognizing the different symptoms of depression, you can take the first steps to feeling better and overcoming the problem. 

Signs and symptoms 

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. 

10 common depression symptoms 

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 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. 

Depression vs. anxiety 

While anxiety and depression are different conditions, they stem from the same biological vulnerability so often go hand-in-hand. Anxiety can both appear as a symptom of depression or it can trigger depression in the first place. In fact, studies suggest that over 40 percent of people with major depression also suffer with an anxiety disorder. 

Some of the symptoms between the two conditions can also look very similar, making it difficult to distinguish between the conditions. Irritability, anger, unexplained aches and pains, and changes in energy, focus, and sleeping patterns can occur in both depression and anxiety. Even the persistent dark, negative thoughts commonly associated with depression can look a lot like the endless worry of anxiety. 

However, there are also some marked differences. While the symptoms of both depression and anxiety can look very different in different people, the following may help to distinguish between the conditions: 

In depression without anxiety, you’re likely to feel sluggish and lifeless with little motivation to do anything. With anxiety, you’re more likely to feel tense and jittery with a racing mind. 

In depression without anxiety, you may feel hopeless and helpless about what you see as an inevitably bleak future. With anxiety, you’re more likely to worry over and over about what the future holds, feeling frightened and nervous but thinking that your worry may hold the key to easing those fears. 

If you recognize symptoms of anxiety co-occurring with your depression, it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions. Since they’re so closely related, a lot of the self-help and treatment options that work for anxiety will also help manage symptoms of depression. 


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