There are at least four things that everyone should know about depression:
- Depression is a real illness.
- Depression affects people in different ways.
- Depression is treatable.
- If you have depression, you are not alone.
When a person has depression, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning. It can cause pain for both the person with depression and those who care about him or her. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness – it’s not a character flaw. You can’t just “snap out of” clinical depression.
Signs and Symptoms
Sadness is only a small part of depression. Some people with depression may not feel sadness at all. Depression has many other symptoms, including physical ones. If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms for at least 2 weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms
Factors That Play a Role in Depression
Many factors may play a role in depression, including genetics, brain biology and chemistry, and life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, an early childhood experience, or any stressful situation.
Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in the teens or early 20s or 30s. Most chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults begin as high levels of anxiety in children. In fact, high levels of anxiety as a child could mean a higher risk of depression as an adult.
Depression can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes medications taken for these illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.
Research on depression is ongoing, and one day these discoveries may lead to better diagnosis and treatment. To learn more about current research, visit the NIMH website at www.nimh.nih.gov.
FREE SUPPORT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS, 24/7
Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, providing access to free, 24/7 support and information via the medium people already use and trust: text. Here’s how it works:
- Text 741-741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.
- A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds quickly.
- The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.