Signs of Depression in Women (and What to Do)

Most women will have a variety of roles in their lives such as daughter, wife, mother, friend, employee, caregiver, and so on. With each of these different roles, there are natural ups and downs that are simply part of everyday life. Changes in mood brought about by things like fights with partners, work-related stress, and hormonal changes are very common, and not a cause for concern.

These types of emotional responses are usually short-lived and emotional balance restored within a few days. For women with depression, however, low mood is not limited to life stresses and does not simply go away once the immediate stressor has been resolved.

In depression, the symptoms often get worse over time and begin to have a significant impact on day to day life and relationships. Unfortunately, this often then becomes a vicious cycle in which many women feel trapped.

According to the statistics, approximately 15 million people in the United States suffer from one or more episodes of depression every year, and an alarming majority of these are women. In fact, depression is considered to be one of the most common problems that women in the United States experience and research has shown that women are up to twice as likely to be impacted by depression than men.

Additionally, depression tends to affect women earlier in life than for men, and episodes of depression in women are generally longer lasting and more frequent than for men.

Different Types of Depression

When symptoms of depression have a significant impact on daily functioning and are persistent, then a diagnosis of clinical depression is usually made. It is important for women who are struggling with this kind of depression to seek help from a medical professional or counselor.

Professional advice can begin to uncover the underlying causes of depression and help to formulate a treatment plan to ease the symptoms. The most common types of depression that women experience are:

Major Depression

A woman experiencing major depression will find that their daily life is considerably affected by their symptoms. Aspects of life that may be affected include work performance, sleep quality, and appetite.

In addition, major depression interferes with a person’s ability to experience pleasure or happiness, so things that a woman previously enjoyed may no longer be enjoyable.

One of the areas in which major depression has the greatest negative effect is in relationships. Women with major depression also tend to experience severely low self-esteem, which also has a considerable impact on their daily functioning. Major depression can be long-lasting and often reoccurs.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is considered to be unique to women, and generally affects women who have recently given birth to a child. While many women will experience low mood, often referred to as “baby blues”, as they adjust to the new addition in their life, postpartum depression is much more severe and causes significant difficulties for women.

The fact that most people consider the birth of a baby to be a cause of celebration only exacerbates the difficulties for women with postpartum depression. Symptoms usually develop in the first few months after giving birth, but in some cases, symptoms may emerge during pregnancy.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Although generally less severe than major depression, persistent depressive disorder, as its name suggests, persists for longer than other forms of depression. With this form of depression, symptoms can last for over two years and may be complicated by additional episodes of major depression.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Most people will know what premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is, and many women experience this on a monthly basis, with erratic moods and irritability. These symptoms are relatively mild and very common. However, premenstrual dysphoric disorder occurs much less frequently and is a form of depression that is closely linked with a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is much more serious than PMS and has a profound effect on women’s lives. Symptoms include anxiety, extreme anger, debilitating mood swings, appetite fluctuations, and suicidal thoughts and impulses.

These symptoms tend to appear up to a week before menstruation and fade as soon as the menstrual period begins. Symptoms are extreme enough to have a significant impact on daily life and relationships.

Other types of depression that only women experience include perinatal depression and perimenopausal depression. These hormonally-linked disorders occur at different life stages and can be debilitating for women.

What Causes Depression in Women?

Because of obvious differences between men and women, the causative factors for women are different from those for men. Hormones are high on the list of causes of depression in women, followed by varying stress responses, and social pressures that only women experience. There is a wide range of possible causes of depression in women, including genetic, hormonal, psychological and social issues.

Biological Causes

Biologically speaking, depression does tend to run in families. Research in genetics has shown that there are some genetic profiles that have a higher risk of developing depression, and others that lead to types of depression that are treatment resistant. However, genetical research cannot accurately predict who will or won’t experience depression.

Even though someone may have a higher genetic risk of experiencing depression, this does not guarantee that they will. Despite genetic risk factors, there are other aspects of life that may act in a protective way against depressive symptoms. Resiliency can be provided by strong family and social relationships.

In addition to genetic aspects, other biological risk factors for depression include fertility issues, pregnancy issues, perimenopause, menopause, and issues related to menstruation. There is a naturally increased risk of depression linked to hormonal changes and imbalances.

Chronic illness, health issues, disability and even stopping smoking can also increase the risk of experiencing depression for women.

Psychological Causes

Psychological causes of depression seem to be evident more frequently in women than in men. This may be due to women being generally viewed as more emotional and having the tendency to express emotions more than men.

Such factors mean that women have a greater likelihood of ruminating on negative and unhealthy thoughts, which creates a vicious cycle that prolongs depressive episodes and results in a greater severity in symptoms.

Women are also more likely to have issues related to body image and have less resilience to stress. Reduced stress resilience has been linked to high levels of the hormone progesterone, which can impede the balance of other hormones.

Social Causes

Women have different ways of coping with stress, react differently in relationships, and make different lifestyle choices when compared to men, and these differences impact their likelihood of developing depression.

For example, statistics have shown that more women experience depression due to relationship or marriage difficulties, struggle more as a result of poor work-life balance and have a greater likelihood of becoming depressed following financial problems and distressing life events such as a death in the family.

Factors that impact the risk of developing depression that are not exclusive to women include the effects of an abusive childhood, family history of mood disorders, and substance use.

Common Signs of Depression in Women

People experience the symptoms of depression in different ways, and their symptoms may present differently, differing in terms of frequency, severity, and symptom combinations.

Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling hopeless, being overwhelmed by despondency, misery, and anguish
  • Being uncharacteristically irritable, anxious, and feeling guilty
  • Severe, unexplained exhaustion
  • Losing interest in things that were previously important and pleasurable
  • Struggling with concentration, being unable to make decisions, poor memory
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Disrupted sleep, insomnia, wanting to sleep all the time
  • Lack of appetite or comfort eating
  • Physical issues such as aching, headaches, digestive upset, persistent pain
  • Having no energy
  • Feeling out of control
  • Crying a lot, or feeling constantly on the brink of tears
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling constantly on edge
  • Not being interested in people or activities

Differences in Depression for Women Compared to Men

Some of the differences between men and women’s experiences of depression include:

Women

  • Women are more likely to use food as a means of coping with their symptoms, developing unhealthy eating patterns
  • Women struggle more with feelings of lethargy and nervousness
  • Women experience more anxiety and fear
  • Women tend to feel responsible for their symptoms and inability to recover
  • Women struggle with sadness, poor self-worth, and experience apathy as a part of their depressive symptoms.
  • Women tend to retreat from conflict while battling depression
  • Women are more open in discussing their depressive symptoms, particularly their doubts and sense of despondency

Men

  • Men’s coping mechanisms are often more destructive in nature, particularly involving excessive alcohol consumption, sex, TV, and sports
  • Men struggle more with feelings of agitation and restlessness
  • Men tend to be more reticent during episodes of depression
  • Men hold others responsible for their symptoms
  • Men often initiate conflict when struggling with depression
  • Men are more prone to concealing their feelings of despondency, so as to avoid appearing weak

While these are some of the frequent differences distinguishing between men and women’s experience of depression, there are always exceptions to these, due to the variable and fluctuating nature of depression. Research has, however, shown these differences to be largely consistent.

Some of the differences can be attributed to the inherent hormonal differences in men and women. Naturally, those symptoms of depression that occur in connection with pregnancy or menopause are hormonal in nature.

One other explanation for why men and women experience depression differently can be the different social demands and expectations placed on women and men. For example, society often seems to have the expectation that men will not show weakness or be open about their feelings. Women, on the other hand, are expected to talk about their feelings.

Therefore, the way that society determines what is and is not acceptable has an impact on men and women’s experience of depression.

What to Do About Your Depression Symptoms

For women struggling with depression, it is important to think about how factors such as hormones, lifestyle, stress levels and age impact on your symptoms.

For example, if you are pregnant, or intend to become pregnant while receiving treatment for depression, your physician will be able to discuss what medications you can and cannot take and advise on alternative ways of handling symptoms.

When you are taking medication to treat symptoms of depression, you should be aware of any potential side effects and note those that you experience. This is particularly important with side effects that can intensify the symptoms of depression. Always consult your doctor if you suddenly feel worse.

In addition to medication, therapy has also proven to be valuable in treating depression, and for many therapies is a success. It is important to find a counselor that you can trust and talk openly with, and anyone in therapy for depression should be prepared to work at understanding the roots of your depression and developing effective ways of coping with symptoms.

Self-care is a vital part of recovery from depression. Taking good care of yourself has been shown to have a positive impact on depressive symptoms. It also helps to have a support system of friends and family who you can depend on when you are struggling. They can help you avoid the trap of isolation that only worsens symptoms and provide encouragement in your everyday life.

Studies have shown that having face-to-face support from others is more beneficial than phone calls, emails, or social media. Getting exercise and having healthy sleep habits are also useful means of reducing the impact of depression. Spiritual practices, as well as relaxation or meditation, can help also.

It is thought that around two-thirds of people with depression struggle to receive the help they need. Sometimes this is because they are afraid to ask for help, or ashamed of needing it. It is better to seek help early rather than risk symptoms worsening, as depression becomes harder to treat as the severity of symptoms increases.

Trained mental health workers can help you to look at the reasons why you are experiencing depression and build strategies that will help you the most. It is important to remember that only a mental health professional can make a formal diagnosis of depression.

Although depression affects people in different ways and has profound effects, all cases of depression are treatable. Combining treatment methods is the most effective, but there is no universal treatment plan that works for everyone. Seek advice from a Christian counselor to start on the road to recovery.

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How to Find the Depression Help You’re Looking For

Depression is a serious mental illness that can become incredibly dangerous if it goes untreated. Unfortunately, due to the stigma that still surrounds mental health, many of those who suffer from this condition do not seek out the help they really need.

Depression is also very common. Millions of Americans will suffer from it this year alone. Despite its prevalence, one person’s experience of depression may be very different to another’s. It is a complex illness with many varied factors and an array of different symptoms.

The causes of depression also vary. Links have been made between depression and negative life events, genetics, environment and overall levels of stress. Some types of depression will grow more severe over a number of years, while others may be confined to a “depressive episode” that might have been triggered by a life event.

Types of Depression

The following types of depression are very common and affect millions of people worldwide.

Clinical Depression

Clinical or major depression may be linked to genetics, hormones or even biological changes. This type of depression may prevent the sufferer from enjoying those things that used to give them pleasure. They may experience intense sadness and might find themselves getting easily irritated and angry.

Other symptoms might include loss of memory loss аnd a reduced interest in ѕеx. Every day may feel as if it is an uphill struggle, аnd thе ѕuffеrеr may stop ѕhоwing аny interest in their former hobbies. The duration of clinical dерrеѕѕіоn may be measured in уеаrѕ and can be absolutely debilitating.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

PDD іѕ a relatively mіld category оf depression that lasts for at least two years. It may not be the most severe level of depressive feeling, but it is there churning away in the background.

Sufferers may feel as if it has lasted for as long as they can remember. PDD is distinct in that it manifests as a low level of depression that is ongoing – often for years – as opposed to major depression that often comes in the form of short bursts or “episodes.”

Atypical Depression (Subtype of Major Depression or PDD)

This is a subtype of Persistent Depressive Disorder and is distinguished by a very specific set of symptoms such as changes in appetite, weakness, environmentally based mood swings, excessive sleepiness, fatigue, sensitivity to rejection. Some of these symptoms are also indicative major depression or PDD.

Postpartum Depression

Thіѕ type of depression is sometimes known as “Thе Bаbу Bluеѕ.” It is common for women to experience some level of depressive feeling as their hоrmоnе lеvеlѕ change, they find themselves short on ѕlеер, аnd thеy are overwhelmed by the responsibility of parenting a child.

But postpartum depression is much more. The mоthеr may experience a heavy weight of dеѕраіr for an extended period of time. They may find it excruciatingly difficult to bond with the child, and may even feel a compulsion to harm their baby.

Manic Depression

Manic depression (also referred to аѕ Bipolar Dіѕоrdеr) iѕ a category оf dерrеѕѕіоn that is often represented bу times оf intense despair аnd mаjоr depression, fоllоwеd bу windows оf frantic hyperactivity and mania. These rhythms of depression followed by mania may occur for weeks or even months. Anyone suffering from this type of depression must seek professional help immediately.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Thеrе are some who find themselves falling into depression durіng fаll or wіntеr. Of course, many people feel a bit low when the evenings get darker and the days get colder, but SAD is more serious than that and may result in extreme feelings of hopelessness.

Therapists саll this condition seasonal affective dіѕоrdеr (SAD). People who are affected by the change of seasons plunge іntо dерrеѕѕion, cannot function normally, and may seem very similar to a person who is suffering from a mаjоr depression. However, those with SAD usually find that by the time the particular season ends, their mood begins to lift and they can function well again.

Practical Stерѕ to Fіnd thе Depression Hеlр Yоu Nееd

Consider some wауѕ that уоu саn find depression help :

Therapy

Talk therapy revolves around openly talking about уоur problems and feelings wіth a trained counselor. They may assist уоu in recognizing thought patterns or behaviors thаt are contributing tо your depression. Perhaps yоu will bе given some sort of hоmеwоrk, like trying to recognize the moments when your thinking begins to shift towards a depressive state. You may be encouraged to rewire those thought distortions; to trасk your mооdѕ, journal about your feelings, and develop a self-care plan. This wіll help you to progress with уоur treatment оutѕіdе of your sessions.

Yоur therapist may аlѕо provide you with еxеrсіѕеѕ for stress and anxiety reduction and hеlр to a better undеrѕtаnding of уоur illness. They may assist you in creating strategies to help identify аnd аvоіd trіggеrѕ thаt set off уоur dерrеѕѕіоn. A therapist саn аlѕо provide you with the tools needed to manage your depression when these triggers do inevitably pop up from time to time.

Medication

Medication is commonly used alongside the right therapy, as part of an effective treatment for depression. Sоmе people may use medication for a short time until their symptoms subside, while оthеrѕ may use them over the lоng-tеrm to stabilize their mental health. Common depression mеdісаtіоnѕ іnсludе:

  • Sеlесtіvе ѕеrоtоnіn reuptake іnhіbіtоrѕ (SSRI’ѕ)
  • Sеrоtоnіn-nоrеріnерhrіnе reuptake inhibitors (SNRI’s)
  • Trісусlіс antidepressants
  • Benzodiazepines

Self-care

Dерrеѕѕіоn саn make іt tough to take care of yourself in the most basic of ways. But actively taking part іn уоur trеаtmеnt and working with a professional to help уоurѕеlf cope wіth things саn mаkе a huge difference tо your overall state of mind.

Engaging in mental, physical, and spiritual self-care on a daily basis can improve your mental health and even lift your depression. There are many brilliant self-care ideas around, but here аrе just a few examples of some things you can try:

  • deep breathing (mental self-care)
  • regular exercising (physical self-care)
  • prayer (spiritual self-care)
  • journaling your experiences, feelings, and emotions
  • соnnесting with your loved ones and friends
  • getting sufficient rest

Making use of sеlf-care techniques fоr treating depression саn be very effective for іmрrоvіng your overall mооd. Discuss various strategies with your therapist to find the best tools for effective mаnаgеment of thе ѕуmрtоmѕ оf your depression. If you have some key emotional strategies in place to deal with your depression when it strikes, you will be much better equipped to cope when your therapist is not around.

Depression can often feel as if it is uncontrollable and impossible to treat. But it is manageable, though it should never be battled alone. Seeking out help for your depression does not imply weakness or inability to cope. Rather, it is an illness that must be treated as such.

Christians should understand that depression, itself, is not a sin nor should you be ashamed of it. Depression does not equate to a lack of faith in God. In fact, many of the great theologians of the Christian Church have suffered from depressive disorders.

The important thing to remember is to always be bold in seeking professional help when you are struggling. With the right combination of therapy and medication, depression can be managed effectively, and you can find greater freedom and strength in your battle against mental illness.

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5 Causes of Depression: The Common Culprits

statistics on depression reveal the extent of this widespread mental health condition – the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that in a single year, between 5-12% of people will suffer from at least one episode of major depression. These episodes can have a huge impact on the individual’s life.

When looking at lifespans as a whole, about 20% of people will suffer from a mood disorder at some point in their lives; this can include depression, anxiety, etc.

It’s more than likely that someone you know is living with depression, which may or may not have been diagnosed.

What Is Depression’s Root Cause?

Since depression affects so many lives, this leads us to ask what causes this condition. Psychologists have been exploring the possible causes of depression for many years. They’ve drawn some conclusions, but there are no easy answers, and the explanations we do have are complex and vary according to the individual.

Different Types of Depression

It’s important to give a definition of depression since the term can encompass a range of more specific conditions. The hallmark diagnosis is called Major Depressive Disorder, and under this umbrella are 14 more specific diagnoses that can be made by therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

When making a specific diagnosis, mental health professionals account for severity, whether or not the condition occurs in a repeating cycle, and whether or not there are psychotic symptoms present. In any of these categories, the standard minimum for diagnosis is a major depressive episode lasting for two weeks or more, with impacts on both mood and motivation.

Dysthymia is a long-term, less severe form of depression that can linger for years. Although it may not be as acutely painful, this chronic, continual condition can be exhausting and debilitating.

Another common type of depression is based on an adjustment disorder. This can be triggered by painful or stressful events, leading to a depressed mood, which can eventually turn into a major depressive episode.

A final significant type of depression to mention is bipolar depression, wherein the sufferer fluctuates between low and high moods. The “high” of bipolar can feel pleasant but often triggers destructive behavior.

The common thread running through the various types of depression is a long-lasting period of sadness and lack of motivation.

Since depression presents in so many different ways, it’s vital for therapists to ask a lot of questions to make an accurate diagnosis. For example, an adjustment disorder with depression might be based on the environment or circumstances more than brain function, and this can be processed in therapy.

By contrast, it can be hard to pinpoint the cause of a major depressive episode. These episodes can start suddenly, overwhelmingly, and seem to have no rhyme or reason. This type of depression is often based on brain chemistry issues. A psychiatrist may be most helpful in this case.

Possible Causes of Depression

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common causes of depression:

Neurotransmitters

A popular commercial created a visual for depression using a two-dimensional blob bouncing around in black and white with a huge frown on its face. This is, of course, an oversimplified caricature of depression, but it does point to the reality of neurotransmitters in the brain, as the illustration included little triangles floating between two knobs corrected to larger neurons.

This illustration managed to demonstrate the possible imbalance of chemicals that can have a significant impact on our mood and mental health.

Neurons are cells that transmit information throughout the body and brain. They have the capacity to fire signals that allow us to think, experience emotions and memories, and maintain both voluntary and involuntary control over our physical functions.

Serotonin is a specific neurotransmitter that has a positive impact on mood. Dopamine is another. Antidepressants work by balancing neurotransmitter levels.

It can be challenging to medicate depression effectively because of the complexity of the brain and how widely the response differs based on the individual. Finding the right antidepressant can require a period of trial and error.

Other steps can be taken in the meantime, however, such as exercising and improving one’s diet. These can help ignite the process of recovery. Of course, the nature of depression often makes it difficult to find the motivation to be more active, but if you can incorporate it into your life you can see a positive change to your mood very quickly.

Genes

Genetics is another major factor in depression. Your chances of developing depression are much higher if you have a family member suffering from it, especially if they are a parent or sibling. Genetic predisposition is a powerful component in this disorder.

Genes affect brain development and how neurotransmitters interact, but they are not a decisive predictor. Even identical twins do not have a 100% correlation between brain disorders. And some people are depressed even without a family history of depression. This is why we say that while genes increase the likelihood of depression, they do not cause it, but are often combined with other factors, such as the next one.

Environment

One professor described this cause of depression as a gun that was loaded by genetics, with the trigger being pulled by the environment. If someone is genetically predisposed to develop depression, they will often be triggered into developing it by their environment.

Examples of environment include workplace stress, the loss of a loved one, or even the weather (as seen in seasonal affective disorder).

The environmental category also describes a common threshold that would generally trigger depression in almost anyone, such as being oppressed or bereaved. Each person has an individual threshold at which they will inevitably suffer depression because we are humans who are susceptible to being affected by our circumstances.

Anemia

This is a physical trigger for depression that can easily be overlooked. Anemia reduces energy levels, leading to reduced motivation and often low self-esteem. This might present as depression, however, the cause isn’t a chemical imbalance, but a lack of iron in the blood.

When someone who is anemic experiences this sadness and lack of motivation, they often seek therapy and describe symptoms of depression, but any prescribed antidepressants won’t help. After a long period of trying to find the right medication, the feeling of depression will linger, fueling a sense of hopelessness.

It’s important to consider whether low iron might be contributing to your mental condition. You could ask for a blood test, or even just try to eat iron-rich foods more often and test their effects on your mood.

Spirituality

It’s important to note that depression is not your fault because you’re too sinful or not praying enough. The assumption that a person’s depression is because they’re out of line spiritually has inflicted a lot of damage.

This is evidenced by the fact that many individuals who have major sin issues do not have depression, while people living moral lives often struggle with depression. This situation is not hopeless; God can use our emotional state to draw us closer to Himself.

One common factor in this category is gradually withdrawing from spiritual habits that helped fulfill us in the past, such as Bible studies, small groups, or volunteering. Although it can be tempting to isolate when depressed, maintaining social connections and spiritual activities can be crucial to keep a depressed person from spiraling further downward.

People often withdraw because of their depression, not the other way around. Therefore, know that it’s important to intentionally stay involved and that it can help your mood and sense of personal value.

As we’ve discussed, depression is often rooted in physical causes, and we should be confident that we can ask God to provide both physical and emotional healing.

Treatment for Depression

Depression often consumes the life of someone suffering from it. Treatments must address the wide range of issues that can contribute to this mental condition. According to research, a combination of both therapy and medication generally provides the best outcome for sufferers.

If you’re depressed, you might feel trapped in a pit that you can never climb out of. Medication can be like someone tossing a rope down into the pit. You’ll need to put in the work to climb out, but that is a much more achievable goal when you actually have a rope.

Some people are in deeper pits than others. If your pit is more shallow, you might be able to climb out without the help of medication, but for others, that’s not possible. This isn’t a judgment about your worth as a person; it’s just a matter of assessing your individual situation and responding in the most helpful way.

The act of seeking therapy alone often jump starts the recovery process. Christian Counseling Newport Beach can work with you to make progress in various areas of your life. He or she can also identify any thought processes you have that contribute to your mental health condition so that you can challenge false beliefs with truth.

For some, simply identifying the depression and processing it is enough to begin to climb out of it. A psychiatric referral may be in order to help you identify a medication that can work for you. And in general, therapy can help you uncover the cause(s) of your depression and start you on your healing process.

 

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What are the Symptoms of Depression? Find Out Here

“Am I depressed?”

This question comes up a lot in conversation nowadays, even when speaking casually. It’s part of our cultural language.

“That’s really depressing!” “Wow, I’m so depressed about this.” Being in a state of depression seems almost normal. The word is used in everyday conversations and is in some ways an expected part of life. On television, depression is shown as an expected occurrence after a breakup, trauma, or even as a joke or on cartoons.

As an example, consider one of your favorite TV show characters who you think of as being depressed. What about their behavior points to depression? Are they truly experiencing depression, or is it just sadness inherent to being human? Is their emotional state caused by circumstances or who they are on the inside?

The answer completely depends on the individual. Some people suffer from depression that was passed down genetically with a strong biological component, while for other people a specific situation or a crisis experience in their lives can suddenly bring on depressive symptoms.

The common experience of sadness may resemble depression without meeting clinical criteria for the mental illness. Sadness can also stem from other kinds of disorders. For this reason, it’s best not to jump to the conclusion that your condition is depression; it could have any number of causes.

Even though the word depression is often thrown around, many are still wondering, “What are the symptoms of depression?” Sometimes the condition is obvious, and other times it’s not. True depression is an overwhelming sense of sadness, but not every depressed person will manifest identical symptoms.

It has been estimated 6.7% of adults suffer from depression (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2015). The most common groups affected are women and young adults between 18 and 25 years old (NIMH, 2015). Although depression is found in all ethnicities, its prevalence varies by race. Onset is typically found in the early thirties (Anxiety and Depression Association of America [ADAA], 2016).

Again, depression will manifest differently based on the individual, and its presentation can be very nuanced. It does not discriminate based on age, socioeconomic status, or level of education, and it can even change based on what season of the year it is.

Demographics don’t limit the prevalence of depression.  It is a widespread issue that affects the mental health of millions of people; and at the same time, it can be hard to diagnose properly. If you believe you might have depression, you should seek the advice of a doctor to rule out any physical causes that may need medical care. Once other causes have been ruled out, many physicians will give you a referral to a mental health professional so you can seek a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Getting a specific diagnosis requires that you be assessed by a professional. But here are some of the most common indicators of depression; these can help you assess your current state.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Emotional Changes

Emotions are one of the first factors to be affected by depression. You may experience sudden and unexpected mood swings, or your typical emotional fluctuations may become more intense and frequent. These can include feelings of irritability, anger, restlessness, or tension.

Guilt is another common emotion connected to depression; you may think about past events or current issues and feel overcome with shame. You may feel suddenly consumed by thoughts about death, and you might feel overwhelmed by hopelessness or a sense of personal worthlessness.

Crying more than usual is another symptom, even when things appear outwardly fine. Taken together, symptoms like these can be very alarming and upsetting, and you might feel out of control and overwhelmed. Anxiety is often closely connected to depression.

These are common thoughts you might have:

“My family would be better off without me.”

“Things will never improve.”

“It’s all my fault.”

Apathy

People suffering from depression often experience a lack of interest in things they usually enjoy. This can show itself either through lessened enthusiasm or a complete absence of motivation to engage in things that typically interest you. A project you’ve wanted to start for months suddenly feels like it takes too much energy. The Friday night plans you looked forward to all week just don’t sound very enticing. You know there are changes you need to make in your life, but the motivation just isn’t there.

As for setting goals and reaching new milestones, it’s not even on your radar right now. Everyday life itself seems like too much work. It’s hard to concentrate on getting the necessities accomplished, much less on enjoying exciting activities. You might end up staying home a lot, lacking the desire or capacity to even go grocery shopping.

You might feel stressed by the thought of new experiences you would usually enjoy. Many people lose interest in their romantic relationships and experience a loss of libido. Guilt can wrap itself around your thoughts until you feel like a waste of time for your partner, or perhaps you just feel too exhausted and despondent to make an effort in your relationship. Everyday life seems excruciatingly difficult, and you just don’t want to try anymore.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“I realize that Thursday night is basketball night, but I just can’t manage it this week.”

“Can we go out to dinner another night? I’m just not in the mood right now.”

“I’m usually so good at keeping up with my work, but right now I just can’t and what’s worse, I don’t even think I care.”

Weight Changes

Sudden changes in weight are another red flag for depression. Stress often causes a change in appetite, whether that means eating more or less. Some people feel like they have to force themselves to eat. Depression causes a similar physical response in that it may either dramatically increase or decrease your appetite, ultimately leading to changes in your weight. Ongoing depression often makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“I just haven’t been hungry this week.”

“Crying makes me hungry and when I eat I feel better.”

“My weight is sitting next to my emotions on a rollercoaster.”

Sleep Changes

Sleep is integrally connected to our wellbeing and is usually affected in some way by depression. Insomnia can haunt your nights, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Your mind may feel blank or it may feel overwhelmed with thoughts that don’t stop. Your sleep might be restless and interrupted by frequent wakings. This can cause intense frustration and the need for daytime naps, creating a vicious cycle where falling asleep at night becomes even more difficult.

A general lack of energy and motivation can also lead to a constant sense of sleepiness. You may feel exhausted all the time, even if you’re plagued by insomnia. On the other hand, you may sink into a state of such drowsiness that you sleep far too much. This is called hypersomnolence and leads to feeling tired all day.

Depressed individuals may experience a variety of abnormal sleep patterns while they suffer from this condition.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“It has been the weirdest thing. I’ve been sleeping 10-12 hours a night and I still wake up sleepy!”

“I’m up all night. I don’t know what’s waking me up, but I keep finding myself awake for random hours during the night.”

“I just can’t fall asleep. I feel numb. I’m exhausted, but I can’t seem to fall asleep.”

Physical Changes

Since our minds and bodies are inextricably interconnected, signs of mental illness will often display themselves physically. Health changes may occur. The way you perceive yourself and your physical health may change. Your cognitive abilities may suffer. People with depression often experience headaches, stomach pain, and digestive problems. Jaw clenching and hand-wringing can cause chronic pain.

Some individuals with depression suffer from chronic health conditions or pain, which makes their mental state worse. On the flip side, depression can contribute to a physical environment that makes chronic illness more likely. People with depression often feel that they just process things more slowly, whether that’s in movement, speech, or thinking. Memory can be affected as well.

Things you might notice yourself saying:

“I just feel like staying in all the time. These headaches seem constant in the last month or so.”

“I feel like I just can’t pick up speed lately. I’m just not my usual self.”

“I keep needing to stay home from work with stomach cramps. I just can’t make myself go in like this.”

Christian Counseling Can Help Depression Sufferers

Depression is a pervasive mental illness, and it’s being diagnosed more frequently each year, but many people with depressive symptoms are never diagnosed, and many never seek treatment of any kind.

There is hope. If you feel that you’re exhibiting some or all of these signs of depression, it’s vital to seek treatment and discover the underlying cause. There are a variety of issues that can cause these symptoms, and it’s important to explore what’s going on.

Our counselors in Newport Beach often work with clients who are experiencing depression. We look forward to meeting with you to help you work on regaining your everyday functioning and enjoying your life again.

References

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2016). Facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

National Institute of Mental Health (2015). Major depression among adults. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml

Photos

“Be Still and Know,” courtesy of Chad Madden, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Down,” courtesy of Max Sandelin, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Think,” courtesy of Priscilla du Preez, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Alone,” courtesy of Mike Wilson, unsplash.com, CC0 License