15 Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety
Anxiety and depression are some of the most common mental disorders today- and their prevalence is on the rise. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention reported that there has been a significant increase in the percentage of people in America exhibiting signs of anxiety or depression since the COVID-19 pandemic. Anxiety and depression can have a profound impact on work, relationships, and personal life, so it's important to receive a proper diagnosis in order to take the right steps to manage your mental health.
Anxiety and depression can often take different forms depending on age, gender, socialization, and cultural background, as well as personal differences unique to each individual. In men, anxiety and depression often manifest themselves in anger, irritability, and reckless behavior. Women are more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression including feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and persistent fatigue. In children and young adults, symptoms can vary from separation anxiety and clinginess to defiant behavior and trouble in school.
If you are concerned that your child could be experiencing anxiety or depression, consider looking more into children’s mental health and bringing up any concerns with their primary care provider. For older adults and seniors, depression and anxiety symptoms can include memory loss, substance misuse, and loss of interest in hobbies and activities. Many people want to avoid feeling like a burden in these situations, but reaching out for help is often the most powerful thing you can do.
Not sure if you're going through depression or anxiety? While mental illness varies from person to person, there are a few common signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for. The more symptoms you experience and the longer you experience them for, the more likely you are to be dealing with a mental illness like anxiety or depression.
Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
- Excessive Worrying
If you find yourself constantly worrying about things, it could be a symptom of anxiety. While some worry is a normal part of everyday life, people going through anxiety deal with excessive worry, even about things that might not otherwise seem very important. These worries are often intrusive and affect your thoughts and emotions even when you try your best to ignore them.
- Feeling Restless or On Edge
Feelings of unexplained restlessness and tension can be another common symptom of anxiety. This can include a sense of impending doom or disaster, sometimes accompanied by fear or even panic. These feelings can be concentrated on a specific event, like loss of a job or a natural disaster, or they can be more diffuse. If you feel like you're constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, you may be dealing with anxiety.
- Muscle Tension
Constantly tense and physically wound up? Muscle tension is a physical symptom that often accompanies mental health issues, including anxiety. This constant tension leaves you feeling sore and physically exhausted, even when you haven't done any other physical activity. This prolonged tension can often be the source of chronic pain and other recurring illnesses, so it's important to nip it in the bud before it becomes more severe.
- Feelings of Worthlessness
People dealing with depression often experience a persistent feeling of worthlessness and low self-esteem. This can be a more general feeling or can be related to a specific area such as work, school, or personal relationships. While most people go through periods of self-doubt and uncertainty, the symptoms experienced by those dealing with depression are more intense and tend to persist regardless of external factors.
- Excessive Guilt
Similar to feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt is another common symptom of depression. People can feel guilty for things they have or haven't done, often dwelling on past actions to an unhealthy extent. People can also feel guilty about their mental illness itself and the way it affects their personal and professional lives. These feelings of guilt are compounded by the other common symptoms of depression, such as withdrawal from personal relationships and failure to fulfill obligations at work and school. Guilt over symptoms of depression can be a vicious cycle, so it's important to seek help before you're caught in the spiral.
- Withdrawing From Family and Friends
If you find yourself withdrawing from relationships with friends and family, you could be going through depression. People with depression often remove themselves from otherwise happy, healthy relationships, and struggle form new connections with others. They can often feel like a burden to those who care about them, or may simply be too exhausted and overwhelmed to deal with more social interaction. Lack of close relationships can also be a factor that leads to depression, so that social withdrawal can often further exacerbate existing mental illness.
- Reckless Behavior
Depression can often manifest itself in reckless behavior, including increased substance abuse and unsafe sex. This can also include risk-taking activities like reckless driving or getting into physical conflicts. More common in men than in women, these behaviors are often dangerous in and of themselves in addition to acting as a warning sign of mental health issues. If you find yourself drawn to reckless behaviors regardless of the consequences, consider seeking help.
One of the most common symptoms of depression and anxiety is fatigue, lethargy, and constant tiredness. If you feel like it's a struggle to get out of bed each morning or do anything other than the bare minimum, it could be a symptom of depression and anxiety. These feelings of tiredness and exhaustion can encompass both physical and mental sensations, and can often have significant negative impacts on your work and life. While chronic fatigue can often have other medical causes, including autoimmune disorders and other issues, it's worth having a professional make sure that you aren't dealing with mental illness.
Here are some questions you can ask your doctor:
What exactly are the symptoms of depression?
In the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, clinical depression (also called major depressive disorder) was re-classified under a new category called depressive disorders. The diagnostic criteria for MDD for MDD requires that five of the following symptoms occur for at least two weeks:
- Persistent depressed mood
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation
- Significant weight gain or loss, or increased/decreased appetite
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- Extreme feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Suicidal thoughts
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of self-harm, reach out for urgent help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
In addition to the above criteria, an individual’s symptoms of depression must:
- create significant impairment to daily functioning
- not be attributed to a medical condition or the side effects of medication taken for a chronic illness
- not be related to the effects of substance abuse
- not come after a previous manic or hypomanic episode (which may indicate the possibility of bipolar disorder)
- not be better explained by schizophrenia or related disorders
Living with depression can cause many emotional and physical problems that decrease an individual’s quality of life. However, there is treatment available that can help to improve depressive symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association states that 80-90% of people respond positively to treatment. Common treatments for depression include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. In some severe cases, brain stimulation therapies (such as electroconvulsive therapy) may be considered.
In addition to professional treatment, other strategies that can help individuals to cope with depression include:
- Prioritizing healthy habits (such as eating nutritious meals, getting regular exercise, and adequate sleep)
- Engaging in stress management techniques
- Connecting with trusted friends and family who can provide emotional support
- Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs– or addressing any substance abuse concerns that may be present.
What are the 4 main causes of depression?
Depression is thought to occur as a result of a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, risk factors that can increase an individual’s risk of developing depression include:
- Family history of depression
- Personal history of depression or other mental health conditions
- Stressful life events
- Living with chronic pain
- Serious medical conditions like heart disease or cancer
- Substance abuse
Due to the societal stigma around depression, some individuals may be hesitant to seek treatment. They may mistakenly believe that depression is a sign of weakness or something they should be able to just ‘snap out of’. It is important to understand that depression is a mental illness that requires professional attention and support. If you are experiencing depression, know that what you are going through is not your fault, and there is treatment available that can help you to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
9. Changes in Sleep Patterns
Another frequently occurring symptom of both depression and anxiety is a significant change in sleep patterns. This can mean that you're getting much more sleep than you normally would and find it difficult to stay awake throughout the day. It can also manifest as persistent difficulty sleeping, and even insomnia. Other common sleep-related symptoms are trouble falling asleep or waking up earlier than usual. After a stressful or traumatic life event, it's pretty common to deal with disruptions to your sleep. But if these symptoms persist, you could be dealing with a mental health issue. Trouble with sleep can also have an outsized impact on the rest of your day, making it an especially important symptom to combat.
10. Changes in Appetite
If you find yourself constantly overeating or eating much less than you used to, you could be experiencing another common symptom of anxiety and depression. Changes in appetite often accompany other symptoms like restlessness or fatigue. Anxiety and depression can also occur alongside eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating, making them an especially dangerous combination.
11. Anger and Irritability
Feeling angry all the time even without a clear reason? Anger and irritability are a common symptom of depression and anxiety, especially among men. These symptoms can often also have a significant impact on your relationships with others, making it more difficult to seek help or get support when you need it.
12. Physical Pain
While depression and anxiety are mental illnesses, they can often have persistent physical symptoms. Physical pain, including headaches, cramps, and muscle soreness often accompanies other psychological symptoms. If you're in pain and can't identify a clear physical cause, it could be a symptom of an underlying mental issue.
13. Persistent Sadness
Another hallmark of depression is a persistent feeling of sadness. While it's normal to experience feelings of sadness and melancholy after significant life events, feeling sad constantly can be a sign of something more serious. Whether you find yourself in the throws of despair or just feel like you're in a bad mood all the time without knowing why, you could be dealing with depression.
14. Trouble Concentrating
If you have trouble concentrating on the task at hand, and instead find yourself constantly worrying about other things or losing focus completely, it could be a sign of anxiety and depression. This symptom can negatively affect work, school, and other areas of performance, and can make it more difficult to perform even basic tasks like preparing meals or completing household chores.
- Suicidal Ideation
One of the most serious symptoms of mental health issues, suicidal ideation can take the form of persistent suicidal thoughts or even plans to commit suicide. If you're experiencing symptoms of suicidal ideation, be sure to get in touch with a mental health professional right away. You can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline online, or call them at 1-800-273-8255.
While any of these symptoms taken individually might not be a sign of mental illness, if you're experiencing several of the above symptoms, you could be going through anxiety or depression. The good news is that these illnesses are common and treatable through a variety of methods, including medication and therapy. The American Psychiatric Association notes that most individuals who are treated for depression experience a reduction in their symptoms.
Are you experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety? Whether you're looking for professional counseling or just need someone to talk to, BetterHelp offers a diverse selection of online therapy services that can provide you the help you need to manage your mental health. Get in touch with us today to learn more.