What are the Symptoms of Depression? Find Out Here

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.”


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.


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


“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 


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