Depression is a mood disorder, causing persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest. It can also be referred to as major depression, clinical depression, or major depressive disorder.
It affects the way you feel, behave, and think and can lead to a variety both emotional and even physical problems. You might possibly have difficulty performing day to day activities, and depression could possibly make you feel like life really isn’t worth living.
Depression is more than just a “case of the blues.” It isn’t a weakness, and it isn’t something that you can simply snap out of. Depression is a disorder that may require more long-term treatment. However, you shouldn’t be discouraged. Most of the time, individuals with depression will feel better with psychological counseling, medication, or a combination of both. There are also some other treatments available that may help.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Though you may only have one period of depression in your entire life, typically people have multiple episodes of depression over their lifetime. During these episodes, the symptoms will occur nearly every day, most of the day, and may include the following:
- Sad/empty/unhappy feelings
- Outburst of anger/irritability/frustration (even over small things)
- Loss of pleasure/interest over normal activities (including sex)
- Disturbances in sleep (from insomnia to sleeping too much)
- Lack of energy/overall tiredness
- Appetite changes (usually results in loss of appetite and weight loss, but sometimes can cause increased cravings and weight gain)
- Slowed speaking, body movements, or thinking
- Feeling guilty or worthless, fixating on the past failure, or blaming yourself for things that are not in your control
- Difficulty with memory, thinking, or concentrating
- Frequent thoughts of suicide, death, or suicide attempts
- Physical problems, such as headaches/back aches, that can’t be explained
For some individuals, the symptoms of depression are so severe and obvious, that it’s clear that something just isn’t right. However, other people may have generally miserable or unhappy feelings without really knowing or understanding why.
Different Types of Depression
Depression will have different effects on different people. Therefore, the symptoms of depression will vary from person to person. In order to figure out which type of depression you are dealing with, your physician may add some information to your diagnosis of depression, called a specifier. These specifiers include having depression with specific features. Following are some specifiers:
Depression affects each person in different ways, so symptoms caused by depression vary from person to person. To specify the type of depression you have, your doctor may add a little extra information to your diagnosis of depression. This is called a specifier. Specifiers include depression with some more specific features, such as:
- Anxiousness- characterized by an unusual feeling of restlessness or worrying about possible events or losing control.
- Mixed- characterized by simultaneous feelings of depression and mania- includes an elevated level of self-esteem, racing ideas and thoughts, and talking too much.
- Melancholy- characterized by severe depression with an extreme lack of response to things that formerly brought pleasure, early morning awakening and a worsened mood in the morning, changes in appetite, and feelings of agitation, sluggishness, and even guilt.
- Atypical- characterized by an ability to be cheered up by happy events, an increase in appetite, very little need for sleep, an increased sensitivity to rejection and a heavy feelings in arms and/or legs.
- Psychotic- characterized by depression accompanied with hallucinations or delusions, which can involve negative themes as well as themes of personal inadequacy.
- Catatonia- characterized by motor activity involving uncontrollable and purposeless movement or an inflexible, fixed posture.
- Peripartum Onset- this type of depression occurs during pregnancy, or in the weeks and even months following delivery (also called postpartum)
- Seasonal- this type of depression is related to a diminished exposure to sunlight and changes in the seasons.
Symptoms of Depression in Children & Teens
The most common symptoms of depression in children and teens are very similar to those of adults. However, there can be some marked differences:
In Young Children
When young children are depressed, they are likely to present with symptoms such as sadness, clinginess, aches and pains, irritability, worry, weight loss/being underweight, and refusing to go to school.
When teens are depressed, they are likely to present with symptoms such as sadness, feelings of negativity/worthlessness, irritability, poor performance/attendance at school, feeling extremely sensitive or misunderstood, drug or alcohol use/abuse, sleeping or eating too much, loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, self-harm, and avoiding social interactions.
Keep in mind that in both children and teens, depression can occur with other mental health conditions such as eating disorders, ADHD, anxiety, or substance abuse.
In Older Adults
We all know and understand that depression is not a normal part of the aging process and it should never be taken as such under any circumstances. Far too often, depression goes undiagnosed and therefore untreated in older adults, as they typically are reluctant to ask for help. In older adults, the symptoms of depression could be much different and less obvious. Symptoms could include:
- Difficulty with memory and/or changes in personality
- Sleep problems, fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of interest in sex
- Preferring to stay home instead of going out and socializing or trying new things
- Suicidal thoughts, especially in older men
When to Get Help
If you feel like you’re depressed, you should make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. Depression typically gets worse if left untreated and can lead to other mental and physical health issues in other areas of your life. Additionally, feelings of depression could lead to suicide.