Signs and Symptoms of Depression

For over 30 years, Vantage Point is the area’s only full service depression treatment facility with a complete continuum of psychiatric and behavioral health services for children, adults and seniors.

Understanding Depression

Learn about depression and mental illness

Depression can affect people of all ages at different stages in their lives. While everyone experiences feelings of sadness at times, some people experience it in such an overwhelming manner that the effects become debilitating. These people experience such intense feelings of sadness and worthlessness that it begins to affect their ability to function on a daily basis. These individuals may find that their personal, social, occupational, and educational responsibilities are being negatively affected because they feel as though they have lost control of their emotions.

Depression can present itself in a variety of different forms and in various stages of severity. The most common forms of depression include the following:

Major depressive disorder occurs when symptoms interfere with an individual’s ability to function in all aspects of their daily life, as they find their emotions have taken control of their ability to eat, sleep, and work. People with major depressive disorder may find it difficult to enjoy pleasurable activities and eventually lose interest in things that once brought them pleasure.

Minor depression is a form of depression that occurs when a person suffers from symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, but whose symptoms do not meet the criteria required for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. In other words, individuals suffering from minor depression will find that their symptoms may cause them significant distress, but not necessarily in a way that greatly disturbs their ability to function.

Dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder is diagnosed when an individual has suffered symptoms of depression for two years or longer. People struggling with dysthymia may experience difficulty controlling their emotions but are still able to function on a daily basis.

While a diagnosis of depression may be challenging, with proper treatment, medication, and supportive care, the symptoms of depressive disorders are manageable, allowing those with the disorder to lead normal, happy lives.

Statistics

Depression addiction statistics

Major depressive disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in the United States, affecting 6.7% of adults each year. Of that percentage, 2.0% are characterized as having severe depressive symptoms. However, only 51.7% of those suffering from major depression are actively receiving treatment. While the average age of onset of depression is 32 years old, children and teens can suffer from depression as well. It is said that 11% of adolescents have been diagnosed with some form of depressive disorder by the time they reach the age of 18.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for depression

The exact cause of depressive disorders has not been identified. However, it is generally believed that depression is the result of a combination of different factors. These factors include the following:

Genetic: Depressive disorders have been known to run in families, as the biological vulnerability of depression may be inherited. People with family members who suffer from depression are more likely to develop the disorder than those without a similar family history of depression. However, depressive disorders do not only develop in individuals who have family members suffering from the disorder – anyone can fall into the cycle of depression.

Physical: Studies of neuroimaging in the brains of individuals suffering from depression have shown structural differences in the areas responsible for sleep, appetite, and behavior. People who have depression have also shown an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, as well as an imbalance of hormones.

Environmental: Certain life events can trigger the onset of depression. Traumatic experiences, such as the loss of a loved one, can cause people to experience an array of emotions that they may not have the ability to cope with.

Risk Factors:

  • Major life changes and stressors
  • Trauma
  • Poor social support
  • Low self-esteem
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Being female (factors such as premenstrual changes, pregnancy, miscarriages, postpartum period, and menopause are examples of factors that can make women more vulnerable to experiencing depression than men)
  • Serious and/or chronic medical conditions
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain forms of medication

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression

The symptoms of depressive disorders will vary based on the severity of the disorder that the person is suffering from. It can also vary based on one’s personal support system, ability to implement appropriate coping mechanisms, and the frequency in which one experiences the depressive episodes.

Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Sleeping more
  • Secluding oneself from family and friends
  • Losing interest in things that one used to find pleasure in
  • Difficulty meeting the demands that are expected at work, at home, and in social and academic lives
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide attempts

Physical Symptoms:

  • Feeling overly fatigued
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Weight loss / weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained bodily aches and pains

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Becoming preoccupied with the depressive feelings that one is experiencing and allowing it to overwhelm other thought processes
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions
  • Slowed thinking and speaking
  • Having difficulty remembering things

Psychosocial Symptoms:

  • Experiencing feelings of sadness and helplessness
  • Experiencing feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Fixating on past failures and allowing it to taint one’s view of what he or she is truly capable of
  • Feeling overly critical of oneself
  • Minimizing one’s abilities
  • Having a low self-esteem and poor self-image
  • Feeling “empty” inside; feeling like there’s nothing to live for
  • Experiencing a preoccupation with death and suicidal ideation

Effects

Effects of depression

Although depressive disorders can be successfully managed through treatment, changes in lifestyle must also be implemented in order for a reduction of the symptoms to take place in a person. Without treatment and lifestyle changes, the symptoms of depressive disorder will worsen, resulting in increased problems in a person’s life. If untreated, the long-term effects of depressive disorders can include:

  • Social isolation
  • Drug and/or alcohol addiction
  • Obesity
  • Self-harm
  • Increased anxiety, which can lead to further psychological disturbances such as panic disorders or social phobias
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and co-occurring disorders

There are a number of other mental disorders that can arise in conjunction with depressive disorders. The outcomes of these co-occurring disorders can be managed through the treatment of the depression itself. Some of the disorders that may occur alongside depression can include:

  • Alcoholism and drug addiction
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Schizophrenia

I had a great experience at this facility. I have been to one other facility in the past and I can really tell the difference. The process starts with a FREE assessment and it was done relatively quickly. The staff were empathetic and seemed to really care about helping me. Once I got on the unit I met with other staff who were equally helpful. I got to meet with my doctor and therapist while here and my stay was actually pretty comfortable. I was especially pleased with the beginning stages as I was desperate for help and I got it quickly. The hospital is open 24/7 and an assessment can be done without an appointment.

– A Former Resident