11 Signs You May Be Living With Depression

Updated December 2, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Depression is a serious mental illness that can impact your mental, physical, and emotional health. While you may be aware of many of the signs of depression, some of your potential symptoms may not be as obvious. Knowing what to look for when it comes to depression can help you determine whether you should seek professional care and take steps to alleviate symptoms. To that end, we’re providing a list of 11 symptoms of depression, how they could manifest, and what you can do to address them.

Depression Can Lead To Complex Symptoms

1. Persistent Sadness Without A Specific Source

Depression can be caused by specific events; however, many people with the condition experience a low mood that isn’t linked to a definitive cause. Sadness is one of the most recognizable symptoms of depression, and it can be the catalyst for several symptoms we’ll discuss later. You may notice that you’re teary more often or that an altered mood that used to be temporary is persisting.  

There is evidence that practicing self-care can alleviate emotional symptoms of depression. Self-care can include participating in activities you enjoy, like yoga, cooking, or dance; conducting relaxation exercises; journaling; and tending to your personal hygiene.   

2. Low Motivation

Depression can make it hard to pursue your goals, maintain healthy routines, and excel in school or at work. If you’re living with depression, you may even find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Decreased motivation relates to many other symptoms on this list. For example, you may experience a lack of interest in something you once enjoyed that can affect your willingness to pursue that activity. 

There are several things you can do to boost motivation when you’re experiencing depression. Consider sticking to a strict routine when it comes to the things you have to get done throughout the day and setting achievable goals when it comes to more long-term objectives. Additionally, exercising consistently, limiting your alcohol intake, and eating a healthy diet can boost your energy. 

3. Difficulty Concentrating

Because depression can impact cognitive function, the disorder may make it hard for you to focus for extended periods of time. This can cause you to forget things, miss important details, and fall behind with work or school. 

Practicing mindfulness can help you learn to be more present and aware—both of yourself and your surroundings—and remain focused throughout the day. You can start practicing mindfulness while doing household tasks. For example, as you wash the dishes, try to bring your attention to the sensations you’re experiencing. Take note of the smell of soap, the sound of running water, and the feel of the dishes in your hands. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and identify your thoughts as they enter your mind without judging them. 

4. Becoming Withdrawn

At times, depression can make it hard for you to reach out to others. You may not feel like masking your emotions, or you might be concerned about making others feel uncomfortable if they notice you’re feeling down. But isolation can have a compounding effect on depression, as loneliness can lead to further symptoms of depression. 

Research shows that there is a link between social support and improved depression symptoms. If you’re living with a depressive disorder, building up a support system can provide you with encouragement and care as you work through your symptoms. If you find it difficult at first, you may want to start by reaching out to family or close friends. From there, consider seeking out a support group, where you can connect with others who are living with depression. 

5. Lack Of Interest In Activities Once Enjoyed

Do you find that you haven’t been embracing your interests? This symptom of depression is often referred to as anhedonia, a decrease in the ability to experience pleasure. Anhedonia can have particularly detrimental effects because participating in activities you enjoy has proven physical and mental health benefits. Just as you might with work, try to schedule hobbies and fun activities into your day so that you pursue them consistently.

6. Disruptions To Sleep Habits

If you notice that you’ve had trouble falling asleep or are sleeping more than normal, you may be facing a common symptom of depression. It is estimated that 75-80% of people with depression . Depression and sleep disruptions have a bidirectional relationship, meaning a depressive disorder can impact your sleep schedule, and the quality of your sleep can impact symptoms of depression. 

To settle into a consistent sleep schedule, consider creating a nighttime routine. This can include avoiding your phone for the last hour before bed, journaling, tending to personal hygiene, and making yourself a decaf tea. 

Depression Can Lead To Complex Symptoms

7. Appetite and Weight Changes

Depression can alter your appetite, leading to unintentional weight gain or loss—changes which are thought to arise out of the reward pathways in the brain. One of the best ways to manage weight changes that come with depression is physical activity. Exercise doesn’t have to be high impact for it to benefit you. Consider going for frequent walks around your neighborhood, using an elliptical machine, or swimming. 

8. Aches and Pains

You may not associate your physical tiredness or aches with a mental health condition, but they can indeed surface due to a depressive disorder. If you’re living with depression, you may experience pain in your muscles or joints, headaches, or serious fatigue, all of which can exacerbate other symptoms of depression. These symptoms can also be unresponsive to treatments such as pain relievers.

Regular movement can help you minimize physical pain that accompanies depression. If you work at a desk, consider using a standing version or taking regular breaks to walk around. Practicing relaxation exercises may also relieve discomfort if your depression is associated with stress. 

9. Chronic Digestive Issues

Through the gut-microbiome-brain axis, your brain and stomach are connected, sending signals to one another; and in times of stress, your gastrointestinal tract may experience serious difficulties. Depression may cause an upset stomach, heartburn, or cramping, which could exacerbate your existing mental health concerns. 

If you’re experiencing digestive issues that are linked to depression, consider adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lean meats into your diet. Eating more nutrient-rich foods may help manage both this physical symptom and some of the emotional symptoms of depression, as diet can help control your mood. 

10. Low Libido

Many people living with depression report that their sex drive is not what it used to be. Often connected to other symptoms on this list, a decrease in your desire for intimacy can be frustrating. If you’re experience a slowed sex drive, you may want to bring this concern up to your doctor. You can also discuss the reasons for a decrease in libido with your partner to help them understand its source. 

11. Increased Irritability

Research shows that risk factors for both depression and irritability—genetics, family history, etc.—are often co-occurring. So, it may seem counterintuitive, but people with depression often feel easily frustrated on top of feelings of sadness. 

If you’re feeling more irritable than usual, alongside a low mood, you may be living with depression. In this case, consider meditation, which can help you quiet your mind and reduce tension arising out of depression. You can practice various meditation techniques, including progressive muscle relaxation, breath awareness, or mantra meditation, or you can find a guided meditation that will take you through the steps. 

Navigating Depression With Online Therapy

There is an increasingly large body of evidence pointing to online therapy as an effective method of managing the symptoms of depression. In a study of online therapy for depression, researchers found significant reductions in the symptoms of participants eight week after the completion of treatment. Specific benefits singled out by the study included increases in self-esteem and quality of life, along with decreases in negative, intrusive thoughts.

If you’re looking for support and guidance as you navigate symptoms of depression, online therapy can help. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can participate in therapy remotely, which can be helpful if you’re having trouble leaving your home or are uncomfortable discussing your symptoms in person. You’ll also have the opportunity to reach out to your therapist outside of sessions. If you’re curious about a potential symptom you’re experiencing or want to ask a question about depression, you can send your therapist a message, and they’ll respond when they are able. 


Depression is a complex mental health condition that can affect everyone differently. If you’re experiencing some of the above symptoms, a medical or mental health professional can determine whether you’re living with a depressive disorder. For support with the complicated emotions that may arise out of depression and advice on how to manage your specific symptoms, consider reaching out to a licensed therapist online. With the right guidance, you can continue down the path to improved mental health.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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