Do I Have Depression? Statistics, Symptoms, And Care Options

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated February 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Disappointments, breakups, arguments with a friend or loved one, and stressful life changes may all prompt sadness. While sadness is a common emotion, if you feel consistently sad and have lost interest in previously enjoyed activities, you may be experiencing depression. If you relate to these feelings, you are not alone. Globally, it is estimated that around 280 million adults have depression.  

To understand depression further, it can be valuable to look at statistics, symptoms, types of depression, and resources. However, seek advice from a licensed mental health professional for diagnosis and support if you may be experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health condition. 

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Explore the topic of depression with a mental health expert

Depression: Myth and reality

There are several misconceptions about depression, which can sometimes make it difficult for individuals to discern whether they’re experiencing this mental health condition or another challenge. However, depression is not the same for everyone. To understand this condition better, it can be helpful to look at common depression myths and why they aren’t accurate.  

Depression is not the same as “just feeling sad” 

Sadness is often a symptom of depression, but the two are not interchangeable. The emotion of sadness is temporary and goes away within a short period after the event that caused it. For example, you may feel sad for a few days after a close friend has moved away. Contrarily, you might feel sad for about ten minutes if you lose your child’s toy and then find it again later. 

Clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a different condition. A major depressive episode may involve a persistent feeling of sadness, but it can also involve other symptoms, such as loss of interest, lack of energy, and emotional numbness, which can reduce the experience of positive emotions like joy or pleasure. 

Depression is not necessarily caused by major life events

Stressful or traumatic life events are one possible risk factor for depression, but they are not the only risk. Other factors that could increase the risk of depression include having blood relatives with a history of depression, having a history of other mental health conditions, living with chronic illness, or substance use. 

If you are struggling with substance use, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at (800) 662-4357 to receive support and resources.

Depression is a real illness

People with depression may hear harmful advice like, “Snap out of it,” “Be strong,” or “Just be happy.” These statements can invalidate the individual’s experience of depression. Depression is a severe mental illness that may require long-term treatment through medication, therapy, or both. In addition, anyone can have depression, regardless of their activity level, resilience, or ambition. 

People of any gender can live with depression 

Some people may believe that men do not experience depression. While it is true that more women than men are diagnosed with depression, people of any gender can live with the condition. In some cultures, men are expected not to show emotion, making discussing their feelings and seeking treatment difficult. For this reason, fewer men reach out for support, which could lead to fewer diagnoses. 

Different people may respond better to different treatments

There are many treatment options for depression, and what works well for one person may not be as effective for someone else. Depression is often treated through medications, therapy, or a combination. 

As noted by the American Psychological Association, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and antidepressant medications are standard effective options. Some research shows that combined medication and therapy can be more effective in treating major depression than medication alone. However, consult a doctor before starting, changing, or stopping a medication. 

What are the symptoms of depression?

Understanding the symptoms of depression might help you recognize depression when it arises. Depression symptoms may vary from person to person, so keep this in mind as you consider which symptoms you align with. If you relate to multiple symptoms, contact a primary care physician or mental health professional to discuss them in more detail. 

Negative thoughts and feelings

Although the occasional negative thought or feeling can be normal, persistent and intrusive negativity may indicate depression. Challenging emotions like sadness, irritability, or anger may impact your ability to see positivity. You may also experience persistently low self-esteem.

Aside from feeling negative emotions, you could experience a decreased ability to feel positive emotions. Professionals know this symptom as anhedonia, which may take the form of reduced motivation, interest, or pleasure.

Sleep challenges 

Difficulty sleeping is a common symptom of depression. Some individuals with depression may experience hypersomnia (sleeping too often), while others may have difficulty sleeping and sleep too little, which might be a sign of insomnia. 

Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 

Depression can also cause a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. You may experience boredom, disinterest, or exhaustion thinking about or participating in these activities. 

Hopelessness or helplessness 

When thinking about the future, you might feel you lack hope or the ability to change. You may also feel like you do not have the ability or will to change your daily routine. These feelings can cause individuals with depression to isolate, struggle with hygiene habits, or have challenges completing household chores. 

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Decreased motivation and energy 

If you have depression, your energy levels may be lower than usual, and you may frequently feel tired. It could seem that you don’t have the energy to complete tasks, and you may speak or move slowly around others. 

Changes in appetite 

Changes in appetite or eating habits are another common symptom of depression. For some, changes could involve overeating or emotional eating to cope. For others, it may involve a loss of appetite, eating less than usual, or skipping meals.

Reduced memory capacity and concentration 

Individuals with depression might find it challenging to focus on and complete tasks requiring memory. Recalling information can be exceedingly challenging and confusing. 

Physical pain 

If you have depression, you might experience unexplainable body aches. You may also experience cramps, headaches, digestive challenges, or muscle tension. These symptoms are common in depression but speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about your physical health in any way. 

Suicidal thoughts or ideation 

Suicidal thoughts can be one of the most serious signs of depression. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for support. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline can be reached by calling or texting 988 and is available 24/7. Additional information on depression and its symptoms can be found in the DSM-5 criteria for major depressive disorder. For further personalized advice, consult with a health professional. 

What if I have symptoms other than those listed?

If you have undesirable symptoms that don’t fit the description of depression, it is possible you may be living with another mental health condition or are experiencing comorbidity of depression with another mental illness. One of the most common comorbidities is the comorbidity of depression and anxiety. Some studies have found that around 60% of those with anxiety also experience symptoms of depression and vice versa. 

Common anxiety symptoms include nervousness, restlessness, a sense of impending doom, and difficulty controlling feelings of worry. Anxiety also often includes physical symptoms like an increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and trembling. Some symptoms of anxiety disorders can also overlap with depression symptoms, such as sleep problems, headaches or muscle aches, and difficulty concentrating. 

Individuals with bipolar disorder, which involves marked changes in mood, may also experience depressive episodes, though they also experience manic or hypomanic episodes with elevated moods. If you have been experiencing persistent low mood but are also experiencing other symptoms that don’t seem to match those of depression, consider seeking the support of a mental health professional.

Types of depression

In addition to the various possible symptoms of depression that can vary from person to person, there are several subcategories of depression in the DSM-5. Each subtype of depression is a unique diagnosis. Below are a few of the most common: 

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): Involving moderate to severe symptoms that last at least two weeks 
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia): Mild to moderate symptoms of depression that last persistently for two years or more  
  • Postpartum Depression: Depressive symptoms after experiencing gestation, birth, or adoption   
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Depressive symptoms accompanying weather or seasonal changes, often in locations with a lack of sunlight 

If you think you might be living with one of the above types of depression, speak to a professional to discuss an evaluation. You’re not alone, and all types of depression are treatable. 

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Explore the topic of depression with a mental health expert

Counseling options for depression 

If you are experiencing depression, you are not alone; help is available. You can contact someone at any time, whether your symptoms have occurred for the past few weeks, months, or years. In addition, if you are struggling to find the motivation to make an appointment or commute to a therapist’s office, you can try online therapy, which may be more convenient and flexible. 

With online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp, you can match and speak with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your home. In addition, you can set appointments for video, phone, or chat messaging sessions to further customize your experience with your therapist. Although online therapists might not be able to offer diagnosis, they can offer the same modalities as in-person therapists. 

A growing body of research demonstrates the effectiveness of online therapy for reducing symptoms of depression. For instance, one study explored the effectiveness of an online therapy program for improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. It found that the online therapy program significantly reduced symptoms, associated with higher quality of life. 

Takeaway

At times, those living with depression may not realize they are experiencing symptoms. When depression feels normal, it can be challenging to differentiate it from everyday sadness. To start, it may help to familiarize yourself with the facts about depression, common symptoms, and types of depression detailed above. 

For support with depression, there are various treatment options, including medication and therapy. Consider contacting a provider for further support and personalized advice and resources.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
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