The signs and symptons of depression

Different people experience depression in distinct ways. Some feel profound sadness, hopelessness, and low self worth. Many also feel overwhelmed, stressed, and burnt out. And some people feel nothing at all.

The core symptoms of depression include:
  • Having little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling bad about yourself or feeling like a failure
  • Trouble concentrating on things
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed. Or being fidgety/restless.
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or thoughts of hurting yourself

Read more

Kay E.

I started feeling depressed about five years ago, but I couldn’t label the depression. I just felt my energy was low, I was sad a lot of the time. And then I think when I realized it was depression was when I felt that I was not able to get out of bed, that I didn’t want to see people – I realized that this was more than just being sad or being low energy.”

A quick assessment can help you evaluate your symptoms and see where you stand

Take the Assessment

Kay E.

I started feeling depressed about five years ago, but I couldn’t label the depression. I just felt my energy was low, I was sad a lot of the time. And then I think when I realized it was depression was when I felt that I was not able to get out of bed, that I didn’t want to see people – I realized that this was more than just being sad or being low energy.”

Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression often go together, creating a self-sustaining negative cycle that can be hard to break.

The key symptoms of anxiety include:
  • Excessive anxiety and worry about not just one, but many issues, individuals, or events
  • Difficulty in controlling the feelings of worry, often without control in shifting from one topic to another

At least three additional symptoms from the following list:

  • General restlessness
  • Fatigue or the feeling of being easily tired
  • Difficulty concentrating Trouble sleeping Irritability
  • Muscle aches or soreness
Joseph E.

I can’t do things that I used to do anymore. I don’t like to leave the house, I don’t like to go on buses and things like this because I’m so anxious. And then that wears down on me. And I get so exhausted and just knowing that I can’t function like I used to puts me in this really down mood.”

Read More

Joseph E.

I can’t do things that I used to do anymore. I don’t like to leave the house, I don’t like to go on buses and things like this because I’m so anxious. And then that wears down on me. And I get so exhausted and just knowing that I can’t function like I used to puts me in this really down mood.”

Diagnosing depression

Depression is diagnosed by a doctor looking for the presence of signs and symptoms associated with depression, including the mix and severity of symptoms, context, duration, and life impact.

The doctor will also want to know about your medical history and family history, as well as current medications you are taking.

A brief visit is usually enough to diagnose your depression and determine a treatment plan.

Read more

Annie G.

I was miserable, but I felt like I couldn’t talk about it, because I didn’t think what I was feeling was okay. I didn’t think it was normal. I felt like there was something wrong with me. So I held all of that in.”

Take the Assessment

Annie G.

I was miserable, but I felt like I couldn’t talk about it, because I didn’t think what I was feeling was okay. I didn’t think it was normal. I felt like there was something wrong with me. So I held all of that in.”

Medication for depression

Medication can be an effective part of a treatment plan to help you feel better. It’s important to understand the facts – and the myths – to determine if it may be right for you.

Because there are many forms of depression and each individual is unique, getting the best result requires matching each individual to the right medication, then fine-tuning treatment based on individual response.

Medications that are normally prescribed for first line depression treatment are in a category called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) as well as a few similar types of medication. Common examples include sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro) and bupropion (Wellbutrin).

There are a lot of misconceptions out there around antidepressants and it’s important to know the facts.
  • There’s no shame in taking antidepressants— around 13% of Americans take them and millions have benefitted from them.
  • Antidepressants are not addictive and can’t be abused. Some do have withdrawal symptoms, meaning you should taper off rather than stop abruptly.
  • Some people worry that using medication to affect their brain chemistry could change their personality or make them “artificially” happy. Antidepressants don’t change who you are – they just help reduce some of the symptoms that are weighing you down, allowing you to really be yourself.
  • The aren’t a miracle cure—they don’t necessarily address some of the reasons you may be feeling depressed in the first place. That’s why they should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes therapy and self care.
Angela B.

After a couple of weeks on the medication my depression/anxiety was drastically reduced and I finally felt like myself again.”

Start with an Assessment

Angela B.

After a couple of weeks on the medication my depression/anxiety was drastically reduced and I finally felt like myself again.”

Therapy for depression

Therapy can give you the structure and support to help get through difficult issues, including space to reflect, process challenges, and build skills. Therapy is a time-tested approach that’s more accessible than ever, so some form of therapy should be part of any depression care plan.

Jen T.

There’s nothing like having therapy and really learning from others who understand this.”

Joseph E.

I know in my mind that this is part of the process for me to heal and try to pinpoint those things that I tell myself, so that I can look at it from a different perspective once it’s happening.”

Natural treatments for depression

Depression is related to a number of physiological processes in the body and brain that are also influenced by the choices we make every day. Changing daily habits can have a big impact on reducing feelings of depression and keeping them away.

In addition to neurotransmitters and neuroplasticity, depression is believed to also be influenced by inflammation, hormones, and chronic stress – systems we know are impacted by everyday behaviors.

Small steps lead to big improvement (click each topic for more):

Getting care for depression

Sometimes taking the first step can be the most difficult one. But there are multiple ways to get care and you can choose what’s best for you.

In person care:
  • If you have health insurance you can visit your doctor or a therapist covered by your insurer. You can find a directory of eligible providers on your insurer’s website.
  • If you do not have insurance, you can get free or low cost help at a community health center. You can find the one closest to you ​here.
  • You can find a free support group with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance near you ​here.
Online care:
  • Remote depression care can make it easier to understand what’s happening and get high quality care, without having to go to a doctor’s office
  • For most people, diagnosing and treating depression does not require a physical exam or lab test – it’s based on the feelings, experiences, and history you report
  • Doctors must be licensed in your state, pass thorough background checks, and comply with the same laws and regulations as in person care
  • Remote doctors may have access to tools and resources that traditional providers don’t have, such as the ability to monitor your progress more closely and communicate with you more frequently

Depression treatment works and there are a range of options so you can choose what’s right for you. What’s important is finding your path and following through.

Taking an assessment to see where you stand is a great place to start.

Take the Assessment

Depression stories

Real stories from people like you.
“It’s like you want to feel something, and you’re numb.”

“It’s like you want to feel something, and you’re numb.”

Christina looked like the girl who should be peppy and fun. In reality, she felt a deep sense of shame and guilt.

Read the story

“It’s like you want to feel something, and you’re numb.”
“I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It’s a part of who I am.”

“I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It’s a part of who I am.”

Annie’s mind was consumed by thoughts of failure, guilt, and worthlessness. In her struggle to connect with and care for her young daughter, she neglected her own needs and kept her torment private, until the shame compounded into something unbearably painful.

Read the story

“I’m not ashamed of it anymore. It’s a part of who I am.”
“I’m not gonna let this thing control my life.”

“I’m not gonna let this thing control my life.”

When you’re deployed, you bury any fear and keep it together, staying focused on the people and the mission. So that’s what Joe did.

Read the story

“I’m not gonna let this thing control my life.”
“And honestly that changed my life.”

“And honestly that changed my life.”

Over time, Jen’s depression worsened and she began having anxiety and signs of ADHD. To Jen, her depression felt like complete hopelessness.

Read the story

“And honestly that changed my life.”
“I had to mask the way that I approached life.”

“I had to mask the way that I approached life.”

Kenny always felt different – like he didn’t really belong, even in his own family.

Read the story

“I had to mask the way that I approached life.”
741-741

If you’re in emotional distress, text HOME to connect with a counselor immediately.

911

If you’re having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your local ER.