Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

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Signs and Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person.

 Here are the most common symptoms to look out for when addressing this major depressive disorder.

“It’s so difficult to describe depression to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling — that really hollowed-out feeling.”

Depressed Mood


This one is obvious on the surface level but feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness for most of the day and for weeks at a time are often the result of a bigger issue. These feelings can be from an event or for no reason.

Loss of Interest or Pleasure


The inability to derive pleasure from activities that you use to enjoy as well as expressing little to no interest in is a large component of major depressive disorder. This goes beyond being “out of it”, it’s the unwavering lack of interest for weeks at a time. Being deprived of pleasures or interests can lead to other issues that can compound to major depressive disorder and should be treated.

Feelings of Worthlessness or (Inappropriate) Guilt


A general feeling of worthlessness is often coupled with a sense of guilt that may not have a basis in reality. Guilt is a powerful emotion, and excessive guilt distracts from living a vibrant life. More often than not, this level of guilt is a delusion and a symptom of something ominous.

Diminished Inability to Concentrate and Make Decisions


We need proper focus and decision-making to function well in our society. While it can get overwhelming sometimes, things can be paralyzing and dreadful when someone is suffering from major depressive disorder. The lack of focus and indecisiveness often is accompanied by other symptoms of the list

Fatigue or Loss of Energy


Feeling run down by work and life is one thing, but feeling constantly lethargic without reasons is different. There is a difference between overworking and being tired from doing the minimum to get by. 

According to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, widely used as a roadmap to diagnosis, depression can be considered an illness when at least five symptoms occur together for at least two weeks.

Physical Symptoms of depression


Major depression is more than a “mind issue”, there are physical symptoms that happen in the body. The following are somatic or body-related symptoms mentioned in the DSM-5 depression criteria.

  • Sleep difficulties – If you’re depressed, you may have insomnia or sleep more than usual. You may have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. Sometimes people with depression wake up very early and can’t go back to bed. Often, especially in young people with depression, people sleep much more than usual.
  • Changes in appetite or weight – While you’re depressed, you may find that you don’t have much of an appetite for any food. Or you might feel like eating constantly. The same is true for weight gain or weight loss. You may lose or gain weight during the depression. What clues your doctor in that you have depression is that these things are changing.
  • Poor concentration – Poor concentration happens during the depression because your brain isn’t working as well as it usually does – you might feel like you’re in a fog or haze. You may have a hard time focusing on your work, daily chores, or even leisure activities like watching a movie or reading a book.
  • Fatigue – The DSM criteria for depression mentions physical fatigue and loss of energy. This includes decreased activity, feeling tired, low energy, decreased endurance, feeling weak, heavy, sluggish, or slow, putting in more effort to do the same physical tasks, or feeling sleepy.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation – This criteria has to do with slowing down or speeding up your physical and emotional reactions. In psychomotor retardation, you may find that you think and move very slowly. In psychomotor agitation, you might feel restless, anxious, irritable, and tense. You may have racing thoughts or be unable to sit still.

Other sensations may include physical pain such as headaches or back pain that has no clear cause. You may have digestive problems as well which may be a factor.

Psychological Symptoms


The non-somatic (body) symptoms of depression include emotions and the content of your thoughts. These are non-somatic symptoms of depression described in the DSM-5:

  • Depressed mood – Depressed mood is about emotion. It’s feeling sad or low.
  • Anhedonia – This is a loss of pleasure, interest, or enjoyment.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt – This symptom of depression is present when you feel there’s no worth or value in yourself as a person. Unwarranted feelings of guilt are also common when you’re depressed.
  • Thoughts of suicide or death – If you think a lot about death or have thoughts of suicide, it’s not only a symptom of depression. You must get help immediately.
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