How To Tell If You’re Depressed: Learn The Symptoms

Updated July 02, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers

Feeling depressed is more than just feeling sad. When you have feelings of sadness mixed with other negative feelings, you may be depressed. Here is a look at some of the symptoms you should look out for, as well as information on how you can get help for depression.

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What Is Depression?

Depression takes place when you have bad feelings about yourself, and those feelings interact with your daily life. You may have feelings of sadness, mixed with thoughts that you are not good enough, or feel like there’s no hope for you. When these negative thoughts don’t go away for weeks at a time, you likely have depression. If you feel like you do, it is important to make positive changes for your mental health.

Are There Different Types?

There are different types of depression, which range from mild to severe. There are a few major types of depression that you may develop during your lifetime.

Major Depression

This is a type of depression that occurs if you have symptoms that last every day for two weeks or more. It can happen to anyone, so know that you aren’t alone if it happens to you.

Persistent Depression

Persistent depression lasts for over two years; however, the depressive symptoms tend to be less severe than with major depression. During the time you suffer from persistent depression, your symptoms may get worse and better.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the name implies, seasonal affective disorder happens when the seasons change. Some people get depressed during the fall and winter, but their symptoms lessen by the time spring rolls around.

Perinatal Or Postpartum Depression

When you are having a baby, many things change inside your body (like hormones). A woman can have perinatal or postpartum depression during or after delivering a baby.

Causes

Research has been done to try to pinpoint the cause of depression, and it appears that some things may cause it. There is not just one cause. It is thought that genes, along with aspects of your health and your environment, all play a role in the cause of a person’s depression.

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Some diseases can cause depression, as well. If you are suffering from a major illness already, you can develop depression.

Also, people that have a lot of stress in their lives or those who have been abused as children may be more likely to suffer from depression. This is also true for people that are having trouble in relationships, or have relatives with depression already in their family.

Your mental health needs to be addressed in the same way that your physical illness does (by scheduling an appointment with a health care professional).

Symptoms

Here are some of the most common signs of depression for you to look out for.

  • No interest in things. Many times, someone doesn’t want to do anything that used to make them happy. This includes things like hobbies, their jobs, or even hanging out with certain people.
  • Feelings of hopelessness. People with depression may have feelings of hopelessness, where they feel like nothing will ever be better or change.
  • Feelings of emptiness. Depressed people may feel empty or like they have no emotions at all.
  • Tired all the time. People experiencing depression may be tired all the time, even if they sleep many hours a day. On the flip side, some may stop sleeping altogether, or sleep very little.
  • Unable to eat. People who are depressed might not want to eat anything anymore. They’ll skip meals more often than not. Others will start eating much more than they should. Either of these behaviors can cause major changes in weight.
  • More feelings of anxiety. When a person is depressed, they will probably have more feelings of anxiety too. For example, they will feel anxious many times a day, and might even start to pick up nervous habits.
  • Body pains. Depression symptoms are not just of the unseen variety. There are possible body pains, headaches, and other aches and pains that can be felt.
  • Feeling guilt. Some feel unbelievable amounts of guilt while they are suffering from depression.
  • Little control over emotions. Some people experiencing depression will also have little control over their emotions or how they’re feeling. This often translates into being very irritable, and even small and seemingly insignificant things may get on their nerves.
  • Thinking about death. Severe symptoms are feelings of death or suicide. Sometimes people will try to hurt themselves when they have depression. If you are thinking about suicide, you should seek immediate help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24 hours per day.

Signs That You Need Help Immediately

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If you think you have some of the symptoms listed above, there is no reason to panic. It is important to pay attention to the warning signs and be responsible for your mental health. Below are some signs that can help you know that you or someone you know should seek help for depression immediately.

  • Exhibiting reckless behavior
  • Talking about suicide or self-harm
  • Acting like everything is okay after long periods of showing depressive behaviors
  • Starting to work on a will, selling things in their house, or telling people they love goodbye

Tests For Depression

Licensed mental health professionals can diagnose depression, once you describe your symptoms and how you have been feeling. It’s important to note that there are some tests for depression online, but these tests are not a replacement for professional medical advice, and should not be taken seriously.

Treatments

There are two major types of treatment for depression, and a few other things you can add to the mix.

Medicines

There are multiple ways that depression can be treated, regardless of the type. One is through the use of medicines that are prescribed by a doctor or psychiatrist. Certain medications may help you cope with depression symptoms. However, research suggests that combining medication and therapy may be more effective in treating depression than seeking either one by itself.

Therapy

The other main treatment option is therapy. When you start to discuss your mental health, the doctor or counselor can go down their depression test checklist to start to determine the most effective plan for your treatment. Whether you prefer face-to-face or online counseling, it’s important to seek help.

However, not everyone has access to licensed counselors nearby. This is where online counseling platforms like BetterHelp offer solutions. BetterHelp has a team of licensed counselors that can help you develop coping tools to manage your depression, so that your symptoms decrease, and eventually stop interfering with your life and ambitions.

The good news is, research shows that online counseling can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy when it comes to treating depression.

Support Groups

There are support groups out there, so you can talk to other people that have depression too. This is something that can help you feel like you are not alone, and it may also be able to lessen symptoms after a while. Research has shown that these support groups may not help immediately, but they can help you if you stick with them.

Take Care Of You

Even when you don’t feel like you want to, you should take the time to practice self-care. This includes eating better, exercising, relaxing when you feel stressed, and making sure that you are not always by yourself. Do what you can to work on these things, since they may be able to alleviate some of your symptoms.

For example, physical exercises releases “feel-good” hormones, otherwise known as endorphins, which directly impact your mood. You don’t have to engage in intense exercise to feel the benefits. In fact, it is recommended to do low-intensity exercises several times a week (such as going on long walks) to decrease depression symptoms.

Outcome

You must always be aware of your mental health. If something seems off, it is recommended that you speak to a mental health professional. Being treated may help you start to feel like yourself again.

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There is no official cure for depression, but there are effective treatment options. When you take control of your mental health by getting the help you need, there is a greater chance that your symptoms will decrease, and eventually fade over time. It may take a long time for you to start to feel better, but this is something that happens to many people.

There’s no reason to think that you are abnormal for being depressed, so hang in there and do what you can to get better. It can happen to anyone at any age, and some of the worst symptoms could last for years. That’s why it is important to be proactive about your mental health and to take care of you. Be sure to take time to care for yourself and know that you are worthy of love, care, and support. Try to find help when you need it, and be honest about how you are feeling and behaving, so you can get the best care available.


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