Depression affects millions of Americans every year. This list covers some of the most common depression symptoms and how to get help with managing those symptoms.
Living with depression symptoms can be an incredibly isolating experience. Your decreased mood and energy levels usually result in a tendency to isolate. You might feel like you are alone in your struggles as this is what your brain often tells you during a depressive episode. In reality, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
16.2 million Americans, or 6.7 percent of the population, experienced at least one episode of major depression in 2017 alone. While some people only have one episode of depression symptoms, more often than not people go through multiple episodes. Second only to anxiety, depression is the most common mental illness, affecting the lives of both the individual with depression and those who love them.
Remember that depression does not look the same for every person. Some people find it near impossible to leave bed during a depressive episode. Others are able to carry out their daily activities but live with a constant feeling of hopelessness. If you are wondering whether you or someone you love is struggling with depression, consider the following list of symptoms.
10 of the Most Common Depression Symptoms
Look for some of the following signs either in yourself or your loved one if you are wondering whether they are struggling with depression:
1. Persistent or constant feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
The tell-tale depression symptom is the consistent and pervasive feelings of overwhelming sadness and emptiness. Many people describe feeling like the sadness will never end, that it consumes most of their waking moments and sometimes their dreams. The emptiness is difficult to someone who has never lived with depression but captures the feeling well.
2. Overwhelming sense of hopelessness or pessimism
Some people with depression describe the world as being dull or colorless, like there is little to appreciate. Those feelings of sadness and emptiness that seem like they are endless lead to a hopeless view of the world. Though logically someone may know that the depression symptoms will pass eventually, in the moment they tend to cause an extreme sense of pessimism.
3. Persistent ideas of intense guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Individuals with depression do not ask to be depressed. Despite the growth in the understanding of mental health over the past decade, many still believe that people with depression can just “snap out of it.” This misunderstanding can cause feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness in the person with depression. They would “just stop feeling so sad” if they could but since they are unable to it can lead to feeling less-than.
4. Losing interest in hobbies or other activities you once enjoyed
Depression symptoms often steal hobbies and activities away from the depressed person, things they used to love to do. The lack of energy and interest in life keeps them from wanting to get out of the house to do much of anything.
5. Difficulties sleeping or eating
People with depression symptoms often experience interrupted sleep or irregular sleeping patterns. Oftentimes people find they sleep too much during a depressive episode as they have little energy or drive to get out of bed. Sleeping the depression symptoms away is usually an easier alternative. This increase in sleep leads to an impacted appetite and an erratic eating schedule.
6. Noticeably decreased levels of energy or extreme fatigue
In the middle of a depressive episode, the individual’s energy levels are significantly decreased. They may describe feeling “tired all the time” and find it challenging to leave the house for long periods of time.
7. Changes in appetite or weight
A person with depression may notice changes in their appetite, either eating too little or eating too much. These changes in food consumption lead to weight fluctuations which have the potential to be dangerous if they are incredibly drastic in one direction or the other.
8. Irritability, anger, or restlessness
Feeling down and depressed all the time can often result in frustration or anger. These emotions tend to end up directed either at themselves or those closest to them which only adds to the frustration and anger.
9. Aches, pain, headaches, or other physical symptoms with no clear cause
Depression symptoms can result in physical symptoms like body or muscle aches, headaches, or digestive issues. These physical symptoms can be attributed to the depressive episode if there is no other physical cause or explanation for them.
10. Thoughts of death or suicidal ideation
This is the most serious depression symptom of all. Not everyone has thoughts of suicide but the seemingly endless and overwhelming feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness can result in thoughts of taking one’s own life. Anyone who expresses thoughts or even jokes about suicide should be taken seriously. You never know how much weight their claim holds but it is better to be over concerned than find out too late. If someone you know is expressing suicidal thoughts, call 911 or the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) immediately.
Managing and Living with Depression Symptoms
Although there is not necessarily a “cure” for depression, there are ways to manage the depression symptoms. There are many types of medications to help alleviate some of the lowered energy levels, downtrodden mood, and anxiety. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-psychotics are some commonly used medications.
In addition to medication, therapy or counseling prove to be beneficial in helping someone learn to live with their depression symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular types of therapy used for individuals with depressive disorders. Therapy provides an outlet to work through the extremely overwhelming feelings.
If the depression is severe enough or leads to other problems like substance abuse, attending a treatment program is another helpful alternative. Inpatient treatment or an intensive outpatient program provide a more structured approach to helping individuals learn to manage and live with their depression symptoms.