10 Common Depression Symptoms (2023)

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. In fact, an estimated 7.1% of all U.S. adults experienced a major depressive episode within that past year, according to a 2017 National Institutes of Health survey[1]National Institutes of Health, 2017. National Survey on Drug Use and Health . (NSDUH). .

There’s no physical test to diagnose depression—which is also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression—but it presents itself as a cluster of symptoms. Recognizing the symptoms of depression is the first step in seeking help and receiving treatment. Read on for more information about what to look for in yourself or a loved one who may be suffering from depression.

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What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that causes ongoing feelings of sadness and loss of interest in normal activities. It may impact how you feel, think and behave. At its worst, clinical depression makes some people feel as if life isn’t worth living.

To diagnose major depressive disorder, clinicians use standards set out by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM).

“According to our diagnostic manual you have to have at least five individual symptoms of depression in order to qualify for having what we would call a major depressive episode,” says Andrew Leuchter, M.D., professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Symptoms of depression are physical and psychological. “Commonly, people have depressed mood or a lot of anxiety, but they can also have other symptoms—like body aches or loss of energy,” he says.

The American Psychiatric Association notes that in order to receive a diagnosis of depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks and represent a change in your previous level of functioning. Your doctor might also run blood or urine tests to rule out other causes, such as thyroid conditions or vitamin deficiencies, that have similar symptoms.

Common Depression Symptoms

Depression symptoms are wide and varied—there may be up to 52 different symptoms of major depression, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders[2]Fried, E. The 52 symptoms of major depression: Lack of content overlap among seven common depression scales. Journal of Affective Disorder. 2020;260:744. . One person’s depression may look different from another’s. “It is possible for two patients to share no symptoms at all and still get the same major depression diagnosis,” says Eiko Fried, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of clinical psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands and author of the study.

In fact, according to Fried’s research, there are 10,377 unique ways to meet the DSM criteria for major depression. “You can have 10,377 different patients who all differ from all other patients in their symptoms, and yet get the same diagnosis of major depression,” says Fried.

Here are some of the most common symptoms that factor into a depression diagnosis.

1. Significant Impact on Mood

A depressed mood might include feelings of sadness, emptiness and hopelessness. Depression can also manifest as irritability and angry outbursts. In his experience, Dr. Leuchter notes men may come across as angry rather than outwardly sad.

2. Loss of Interest in Usual Activities

Anhedonia, or the reduced ability to experience pleasure, is also a common symptom of depression. Low or no libido or interest in sex is also recognized as a sign.

3. Feelings of Worthlessness

Some depressed people have persistent feelings that they’re not contributing to the world, that they’re a failure or that others don’t care if they exist. These feelings may or may not be precipitated by an actual life event (such as a breakup or job loss).

4. Appetite and Weight Problems

Unintended weight loss and a loss of appetite, as well as overeating and major weight gain, can be indicators of depression.

5. Sleep Disturbances

Some depressed people can barely get out of bed, but sleeping too much is not the only issue of concern. “Sleep disturbances can also include difficulty falling asleep, waking up too early in the morning or waking frequently during the night,” says Dr. Leuchter.

6. Psychomotor Problems

Psychomotor refers to the relationship between thinking (cognitive function) and movement. People who are depressed might exhibit extremely slow reaction times and walk or move slowly. They might be constantly agitated and on overdrive. A patient feeling this way and reporting it usually is not enough—clinicians will want to know that outside observers have noticed the person exhibiting unusual psychomotor problems as well.

7. Fatigue

Fatigue, loss of energy or frequent unexplained body aches are depression red flags. “There’s a lot of stigmas attached to depression and to being depressed in our society,” says Dr. Leuchter. “Some people don’t want to come forward and talk about the fact that they’re feeling depressed. They may focus more on their physical symptoms.”

(Video) 5 Signs of Depression that You Should Never Ignore.

8. Difficulty Concentrating

If someone’s ability to think or concentrate has diminished significantly or they’re unable to make decisions, it’s considered worrisome. This has to be happening nearly every day to be a concern, says Dr. Leuchter.

9. Anxiety

Anxiety looks different for everyone. It can be general, such as random, unwarranted and debilitating fears or worrying, and it can be specific—like increased anxiety involving social situations or an inability to be in enclosed spaces like public transportation or an elevator. People with depression often have a history of anxiety disorders earlier in life.

10. Suicidal Ideation

Recurrent thoughts of death, obsessing about suicide, developing a suicide plan and attempting suicide are all serious indicators of depression.

Dr. Leuchter emphasizes we should be careful judging people’s mental health by outward appearance. “I’ve had patients come into my office who look perfectly cheery and well-adjusted who will just sit down and tell me ‘I’m terribly depressed and I think about ending my life all the time,’” he says. “We should not hold against somebody the fact that they can put up a brave front and look good, but can still be very depressed.”

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If you're in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or message its live online chat service for immediate support from a trained counselor. If you're in immediate danger, call 911.

How to Get Help for Depression

The first step in getting help is to admit to yourself—and perhaps to a family member or friend—that you may be depressed. Quite often people around you may see signs but hesitate to say anything. “Once you’re open to the possibility of diagnosis, there are lots of ways to get help,” says Dr. Leuchter.

Start with talking to your primary care physician or asking friends about a therapist they might recommend. You can also find a therapist through the American Psychological Association psychologist locator or by calling your insurance company for a list of providers in your network. Online teletherapy may also be an option, and some platforms are covered by insurance.

Treatment for depression can vary. “We should not pretend everybody is the same or has the same issues or requires the same treatment just because they are labeled with MD [major depression],” says Fried. There are a variety of approaches, including various talk and behavioral therapies, many different types of medications and even newer therapies such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (a therapy that involves electromagnetic energy). Some people may need one form of therapy, while others might benefit from multiple.

Getting help for major depression doesn’t mean you need treatment forever. “Depression is a very treatable illness,” says Dr. Leuchter. “One can recover from it and go on to never have another episode in their lives.” Some people may have repeat episodes, but he adds, “the most important thing is getting help.”

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FAQs

What are the 11 symptoms of depression? ›

The most common symptoms of depression include:
  • Feelings of sadness.
  • Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities.
  • Angry outbursts.
  • Sleep issues.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Anxiety.
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite.
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt.
6 days ago

What are the top 10 causes of depression? ›

In this section you can find information on the following possible causes of depression:
  • childhood experiences.
  • life events.
  • other mental health problems.
  • physical health problems.
  • genetic inheritance.
  • medication, recreational drugs and alcohol.
  • sleep, diet and exercise.

What are the five common symptoms of depression? ›

Below, we detail five warning signs of depression.
  • Unexplained Pain. Depression does not only affect a person's mental health. ...
  • Inability to Concentrate. Almost everyone experiences some brain fog and forgetfulness. ...
  • Too Much or Too Little Sleep. ...
  • Changes in Appetite. ...
  • Moodiness and Irritability.
10 Dec 2018

What are the 4 main causes of depression? ›

Here are four of the main ones.
  • Genetics. One of the most influential factors in the onset of major depression is outside your control: your genetic code. ...
  • Substance Abuse. ...
  • Early Childhood Experiences. ...
  • Major Life Events (Both Immediate and Prolonged)
1 Sept 2019

What are the 8 symptoms of major depressive disorder? ›

It is diagnosed when an individual has a persistently low or depressed mood, anhedonia or decreased interest in pleasurable activities, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, lack of energy, poor concentration, appetite changes, psychomotor retardation or agitation, sleep disturbances, or suicidal thoughts.

What are 5 risk factors for depression? ›

Risk factors for depression
  • family history and genetics.
  • chronic stress.
  • history of trauma.
  • gender.
  • poor nutrition.
  • unresolved grief or loss.
  • personality traits.
  • medication and substance use.

What is the most common effect of depression? ›

Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include: Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness. Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.

What are the two most common forms of depression? ›

Major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder are two of the most common types of depression that people experience, however, there are many types of depression. What most mood disorders have in common are major depressive episodes. This is also true of bipolar disorder, another type of mood disorder.

What are 5 symptoms of anxiety? ›

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
  • Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
  • Having an increased heart rate.
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating.
  • Trembling.
  • Feeling weak or tired.
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

What are the 3 stages of depression? ›

Living with depression every day is a reality for millions of people, but not everyone knows it.

What are acts of depression? ›

Feeling sad or having a depressed mood. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed. Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

What is the highest form of depression? ›

Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn't the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.

What are 3 risk factors for depression? ›

Risk Factors
  • Genetics: A history of depression in your family may make it more likely for you to get it. ...
  • Death or loss: Sadness and grief are normal reactions. ...
  • Conflict: Personal turmoil or disputes with family or friends may lead to depression.
  • Abuse: Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can bring it on, as well.

What are 3 characteristics of depression? ›

If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression: Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood. Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism. Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness.

What are the eight forms of depression? ›

8 types of depression: symptoms and treatments
  • Major depressive disorder.
  • Persistent depressive disorder.
  • Seasonal affective disorder.
  • Postpartum depression.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
  • Psychotic depression.
  • Bipolar disorder.
  • Atypical depression.

What starts a depressive episode? ›

Depression episodes can be triggered by factors such as stressful events, loss, illness, lifestyle habits, and substance use.

What type of people get depressed? ›

Depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological, and biological factors. People who have gone through adverse life events (unemployment, bereavement, traumatic events) are more likely to develop depression.

Who is at highest risk for depression? ›

It's mainly found in those with low self-esteem, who have a poor outlook, or who feel overwhelmed by stress. Depression is also more common in people with anxiety or other mental health problems. Teens who have tried to self-harm by the age of 16 have a higher risk of having depression by the time they're young adults.

What are your signs of stress? ›

If you are stressed, you might feel:
  • Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up.
  • Over-burdened or overwhelmed.
  • Anxious, nervous or afraid.
  • Like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off.
  • Unable to enjoy yourself.
  • Depressed.
  • Uninterested in life.
  • Like you've lost your sense of humour.

Can you see if a person is depressed? ›

Sometimes, the only signs that a person may show are physical, such as fatigue, insomnia, or weight changes. Other signs of hidden depression can include using alcohol or drugs, being irritable or angry, and losing interest in pleasurable activities such as sex and hobbies.

How does major depression affect daily life? ›

It leads to feelings of sadness, loss of interest in formerly pleasurable activities, and a variety of physical and emotional problems. Additionally, it can decrease a person's ability to perform effectively at work and function at home. Undoubtedly, life can bring sad events that will make you feel down at times.

Does depression change your face? ›

Long-term depression has disastrous effects on skin, because the chemicals associated with the condition can prevent your body from repairing inflammation in cells. "These hormones affect sleep, which will show on our faces in the form of baggy, puffy eyes and a dull or lifeless complexion," says Dr. Wechsler.

What type of depression is permanent? ›

Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia (dis-THIE-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression. You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy.

What are the 7 causes of depression? ›

Causes - Clinical depression
  • Stressful events. Most people take time to come to terms with stressful events, such as bereavement or a relationship breakdown. ...
  • Personality. ...
  • Family history. ...
  • Giving birth. ...
  • Loneliness. ...
  • Alcohol and drugs. ...
  • Illness.

What illness is similar to depression? ›

These include anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. Dysthymic disorder. This mood disorder may be less severe than depression, but it lasts longer. Substance use disorder.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? ›

Follow the 3-3-3 rule.

Look around you and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body — your ankle, fingers, or arm.

What are 10 types of anxiety disorders? ›

Types of Anxiety Disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder. You feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.
  • Panic disorder. ...
  • Social anxiety disorder. ...
  • Specific phobias. ...
  • Agoraphobia. ...
  • Separation anxiety. ...
  • Selective mutism. ...
  • Medication-induced anxiety disorder.
24 Apr 2022

Is crying a symptom of anxiety? ›

If you have anxiety, you might cry often or uncontrollably. Other signs of anxiety include: racing thoughts. excess fear and worry.

What is the last step of depression? ›

Depression creates a sensation of isolation as if you are lost in the wilderness with no direction. The final stage is acceptance, which means you have finally made peace with the reality of your mental illness.

Is there an end to depression? ›

Depression is a serious mental illness and is unlikely to go away or cure itself. Without treatment, depression can last for years or decades and can worsen over time. For people concerned about whether their depression will ever go away, it's important to reach out and seek professional treatment.

How long do depressive stages last? ›

Usually, the depressive episode length ranges from six months to eight months, depending on the person. While some people may have depression that fades, others may struggle with depression on and off their whole life. Also, different types of depression go away with time and are more short-lived by nature.

What is hyper depression? ›

What Is High-Functioning Depression? People with high-function depression are typically diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder (PDD). Common symptoms of PDD include a lack of energy or constant fatigue. In addition, those with PDD or high-functioning depression experience the symptoms for at least two years.

What is the fastest way to treat depression? ›

Medications and psychotherapy are effective for most people with depression. Your primary care doctor or psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms. However, many people with depression also benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health professional.

What happens in the brain during depression? ›

Depression causes the hippocampus to raise its cortisol levels, impeding the development of neurons in your brain. The shrinkage of brain circuits is closely connected to the reduction of the affected part's function. While other cerebral areas shrink due to high levels of cortisol, the amygdala enlarges.

What are the three most serious symptoms of depression? ›

Symptoms
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide.
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
14 Oct 2022

What is the final symptoms of depression? ›

Signs of severe depression can include feelings of hopelessness, increased irritability, loss of pleasure, trouble concentrating or sleeping, or thoughts of death of suicide. 1 Technically, severe depression isn't a formal mental health diagnosis. Rather, it refers to depression that is more debilitating in nature.

What physically happens during depression? ›

Physical symptoms are common in major depression and may lead to chronic pain and complicate treatment. Symptoms associated with depression include joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes.

What are the 9 types of depression? ›

Types of Depression
  • Major Depression.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder.
  • Bipolar Disorder.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Psychotic Depression.
  • Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • 'Situational' Depression.
23 Jun 2021

What is the most harmful symptom of depression? ›

Suicidal Thoughts: An Emergency

For people who are severely depressed, suicide is a real threat. Each year, about 30,000 people in the U.S. take their own lives, although the true number may be higher.

What is the most extreme form of depression? ›

Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn't the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.

What happens when a depression hits? ›

Physical symptoms happen with depression too – these can include feeling tired all the time, getting poor sleep, losing your sex drive, losing your appetite, and feeling aches and pains. If the symptoms are mild, you might simply experience a persistent low mood.

What does depression do to brain? ›

Depression causes the hippocampus to raise its cortisol levels, impeding the development of neurons in your brain. The shrinkage of brain circuits is closely connected to the reduction of the affected part's function. While other cerebral areas shrink due to high levels of cortisol, the amygdala enlarges.

Where does depression sit in the body? ›

Brain areas involved in depression

The amygdala, located deep in the center of the brain, is involved in many emotional responses including activating the brain and body's fear response. This area tends to have increased activity in people with depression.

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