How Depression Affects You: 15 Examples Of Depressed Affect

By: Tanisha Herrin

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

Understanding depression symptoms include reviewing how depression affects the body. Doing so gives a unique perspective on how depression has an effect on how decisions are made from what to eat to choosing which daily tasks to complete. Depressed affect takes a closer look at how depression affects both mental and physical aspects of a person sometimes leading to extreme actions or thoughts considered unhealthy.


Some cases may lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Emotional aspects may feel overwhelming to someone dealing with the effects of depression. A depressed person may express actions or feelings showing they may be struggling to deal with their emotions. Here is an overview of depression and examples of depressed affect you should know to get a better understanding of how the body is affected.

What You Should Know About Depression

Depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness. A severe form may be known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. A person with depression may experience emotional and physical symptoms, making daily living a serious challenge. Sometimes, depression may be temporary when it occurs with a life-changing event such as a personal loss or something unexpected such as trauma. A person may be diagnosed with a depressive disorder when depression symptoms last more than two weeks. Other mental health concerns that share similar symptoms may include bipolar depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Someone with depression symptoms may experience the following:

  • Feeling empty or sad almost daily
  • No interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Weight gain or loss due to appetite changes
  • Feeling slow, sluggish, or agitated
  • Fatigue due to low levels of energy
  • Lack of focus or ability to concentrate and make decisions
  • Thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide

Diagnosis of depression by a medical professional occurs when multiple symptoms are experienced within two weeks. How a person experiences these symptoms may change over time and vary based on personal situations.

Physical Examples Of Depressed Affect

Various studies provide evidence showing how depression affects the body. Sometimes physical issues develop and a person may not realize they are related to feeling depressed. Some effects of depression may occur sooner than others with people experiencing physical discomfort for an extended time before realizing something is wrong. People with depression may experience physical health effects such as the following:


  1. Inflammation leading to increased health risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and gastro problems. Depression may cause inflammation in some cases increasing chances for some to develop conditions related to chronic inflammation such as type 2 diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Stomach concerns such as nausea, diarrhea, and constipation may be a problem. The risk of heart disease may increase due to lack of motivation and interest to make better lifestyle choices such as improving eating habits. Studies are ongoing to understand if depression and inflammation are linked and how they affect the immune system.
  2. Chronic health problems worsen. People already diagnosed with a chronic health condition such as diabetes may experience symptoms getting worse if they have depression. Someone living with depression may not take proper precautions to manage their symptoms if following a treatment plan. They may feel overwhelmed, isolated, or too stressed to follow through.
  3. Changes in appearance due to weight fluctuation and sluggishness. A depressed person may turn to food as a source of comfort when overwhelmed by their emotions. Sometimes emotions create an opposite effect leaving a depressed person less hungry. As a result, a person's appearance becomes noticeable if they gained or lost weight. Posture may also become noticeable if feeling sluggish with slumped shoulders while holding their head down with little or no eye contact with others.
  4. Chronic pain concerns. Depression may lead to aches and pains without cause. Yet, unexplained pains may cause someone to develop depression. Such physical discomfort may be described as muscle aches, headaches, and joint pain. A depressed person may experience worse pain if they deal with chronic pain from a known source such as a previous injury or medical condition.
  5. Sleep concerns and changes in energy. Persistent feelings of sadness and mood changes may affect the body's ability to rest. Some experience insomnia and changes to sleep patterns. It may be difficult to fall asleep or stay awake during the day. Not enough sleep affects the body's ability to create natural energy, leaving a depressed person feeling tired.

  6. Agitation and anxiety. Feeling restless makes it difficult for the body to relax. A person may pace back and forth or toss and turn in bed when they can't sleep. Some may feel on edge and experience muscle tension and other forms of hyperactivity. Sometimes anxiety is a result of an anxiety disorder.
  7. Decreased libido. depression may affect how a person is intimate with their partner. It may be difficult to engage in cuddling, kissing, or any form of intimacy because of low libido. Some experience less pleasure, no orgasms, or difficulty getting aroused.

Emotional Examples Of Depressed Affect

Depression is known to cause feelings of persistent sadness, hopelessness, and feeling less worthy. Such thoughts make tackling the day a challenge because of the lack of a positive attitude. Because depression affects people's emotions differently, it is important to understand how it varies and how others view it. Emotional signs related to depressed affect may include the following:

  1. Sadness with bouts of crying or tearfulness. A depressed person may feel miserable and unhappy about their life from their living situation to relationships with others. Some may feel this way for personal reasons such as about their looks or why things are going the way they want in their lives. Other times sadness may occur suddenly for no reason.
  2. Hopelessness or emptiness. Sometimes a person may feel as if no one cares or that things will never change. While at times depression may cause changes in a person's mood, some may say they don't feel anything even during situations where others would express emotions.
  3. Anger outbursts. Anger may be expressed at an unexpected moment catching others off guard. A depressed person may show anger at something considered small or insignificant. There are different types of anger that may raise a red flag that something is wrong such as anger that leads to property damage, violence, or physical harm. Emotional outbursts may result from withholding feelings or hurt caused by someone else.

  4. Frustration and irritability. Doing daily tasks that seem simple may become frustrating when unable to focus due to lack of energy. Irritability may be a problem when a depressed person doesn't want to be around other people and instead want to be alone.
  5. Lack of motivation due to apathy. Many may feel bored, emotionally numb, or question their existence. Sometimes people feel something is missing in their life but don't have the drive or positive attitude to go after it or just give up trying. Others may get bored doing the same tasks daily while feeling worn out at the same time, feeling as if they have nothing good to look forward to that's gratifying. Fear of failure, being rejected, or even struggling to rebound from a previous failure may create apathy.
  6. Guilt associated with self-blame and previous failures. These feelings of guilt may be associated with actions that were out of one's control. Sometimes guilt is felt when one feels they should have done more or done better to ensure a better outcome of a situation. Self-blame may include putting themselves down in a negative way instead of viewing the situation from a positive perspective even if things didn't go as expected.
  7. Negative thoughts related to low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. A depressed person may struggle to see characteristics and attributes others view as valuable in themselves. They may be quick to downplay compliments or encouragement from others.
  8. Worthlessness associated with thoughts of suicide. A depressed person may have an urge to harm themselves out of anger, guilt, or self-discipline. When someone feels like they don't have anything to give or feel like the people around them are better off without them, such thoughts may be suicidal.

Help And Support For Depression Is Available

Ignoring depression symptoms may take a serious toll on the body leading to health problems and mental health concerns. There are treatment options for depression that include working with a medical specialist, friends, family, and coping strategies to help manage symptoms. Immediate support is available online and through local law enforcement if you or someone you know is in crisis.

If you suspect someone may be depressed, let them know you are willing to talk about anything that's bothering them or assist them in getting help. Options such as therapy, online support groups and forums, and prescribed medications are effective when using them together as a part of a treatment plan. Learning how to improve your lifestyle along with the right support will help manage the physical and emotional aspects of depressed affect.

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