What Depression May Feel Like
Many people believe that depression needs to be debilitating and cause significant problems in their life in order to seek help. What they dont realize is that some of the more subtle signs of this disorder are often the first indication that something is going on. Here are some examples of how depression may feel to you.
Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Depression Only Causes Mental Symptoms
Depression certainly includes mental symptoms like sadness, anxiety, irritability, and hopelessness. But physical symptoms are also a reality for many people living with depression.
This can include fatigue, body aches, headaches, and digestive troubles. People with depression can also have a weaker immune system, potentially putting them at greater risk of catching the latest bug or virus.
Who Has The Highest Rate Of Depression
Adult women have a higher rate of depression at any given point in time as compared to adult men . The age group that has the most adults who have had a major depressive episode in the past year is the 18 to 25 age group.4
Children and teenagers get depressed, too, but it can be tricky to diagnose, says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, Professor Emeritus of psychology and management at Union College and chief in the Division of Psychology at Ellis Hospital, both in Schenectady, New York. We know that between 2% and 6% of children experience depression, he says. About 14% of teenagers age 12 to 17 will experience one episode of major depression. And about 9% of teenagers report a major depressive episode in a given year.
Who Can Diagnose Depression
Primary care providers often diagnose depression. They may refer an individual to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist for treatment. Typically, says Steven Hollon, PhD, of Brentwood, Tennessee, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, the provider uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to make a diagnosis.3 They go through the criteria in the DSM to see how many criteria the person meets, Hollon says.
You Can Play A Role In Research By Joining A Clinical Trial
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
In addition to volunteer research opportunities for the patient groups listed above, research opportunities for healthy volunteers are also available. Healthy volunteers play a critical role in our studies.
For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
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Symptom Awareness & Management Can Lead To Bipolar Stability
If you recognize yourself in these symptoms, write them down. Memorize them. When they show up again, you will be able to stop yourself from acting on the symptoms.
I was rude to someone during the episode that compelled me to write this list, and I felt terrible. I knew I was sick, and I knew I needed to be careful, but this illness is strong! I apologized and went into management mode the episode was gone by the evening.
I believe that the secret to stability is the awareness and management of symptoms.
Personal Factors That Can Lead To Depression
Personal factors that can lead to a risk of depression include:
- family history depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, this doesnt mean that a person will automatically experience depression if a parent or close relative has had the condition.
- personality some people may be more at risk because of their personality, particularly if they tend to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative
- serious medical conditions these can trigger depression in two ways. Serious conditions can bring about depression directly or can contribute to depression through the associated stress and worry, especially if it involves long-term management of a condition or chronic pain
- drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems.
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How Do I Know If Im Sad Or Depressed
If youre sad because you lost your job, are going through a breakup, or lost someone in your life its certainly no fun, but its also pretty normal. Sadness, even extreme sadness, is a natural reaction to events like these. That said, regular sadness can also turn into depression. If the feelings dont get better over time, or if your mood starts to get in the way of your daily life, you might be developing a case of depression.
Physical changes can also affect your mood, like hormone changes due to puberty or certain medical treatments or conditions. If you think you might be depressed, its a good idea to have a doctor review any medications youre taking and test your thyroid and other hormone levels.
If you still arent sure why youre feeling down, or if mental illness of any kind runs in your family, theres a decent chance youre experiencing depression. If you havent already done so, consider taking our depression screen.
Mild And Moderate Depression
These are the most common types. More than simply feeling blue, the symptoms of mild depression can interfere with your daily life, robbing you of joy and motivation. Those symptoms become amplified in moderate depression and can lead to a decline in confidence and self-esteem.
Recurrent, mild depression
Dysthymia is a type of chronic low-grade depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood.
- The symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression, but they last a long time .
- Some people also experience major depressive episodes on top of dysthymia, a condition known as double depression.
- If you suffer from dysthymia, you may feel like youve always been depressed. Or you may think that your continuous low mood is just the way you are.
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What Is Depression
Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just wont go away, you may have depression. More than just sadness in response to lifes struggles and setbacks, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. Just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming.
While some people describe depression as living in a black hole or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men in particular can feel angry and restless. However you experience the problem, left untreated it can become a serious health condition. But its important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depressionnot the reality of your situation.
No matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. By understanding the causes and recognizing the different symptoms and types of depression, you can take the first steps to feeling better and overcoming the problem.
What Can I Do
There are lots of things that you can do to improve how you feel and get better at managing tough feelings.
It can feel hard to find the energy or motivation to do these things. Sometimes it might feel like nothing will help. Try starting with one thing you know you can do, then slowly add things in step by step. This can help you feel like youre making progress.
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How To Tell If You Have Clinical Depression
Clinical depression affects people in different ways.
The symptoms of clinical depression can be complex and vary from person-to-person.
Generally, if you have clinical depression:
- you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy
- you experience these symptoms for at least 2 weeks
- the symptoms are serious enough to interfere with work, social life or family
There are many other symptoms of clinical depression and you’re unlikely to have them all.
How Accurate Is It
This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health provider or doctor.
Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.
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Feelings Of Worthlessness Or Guilt
Depression can put a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself. You may think of yourself in unappealing and unrealistic ways, such as feeling as if you are worthless.
You may also find that have trouble letting a past mistake go, resulting in feelings of guilt. You might become preoccupied with these “failures,” personalize trivial events, or believe that minor mistakes are proof of your inadequacy.
An example of this would be a relationship that ended after you had a fight with your partner and said some not-so-pleasant things. This could lead you to consider yourself the cause of the breakup while potentially ignoring other issues in your relationship, such as a partner who is abusive or a poor communicator.
Excessive, inappropriate guilt and feelings of worthlessness are common symptoms of major depressive disorder. In some cases, the feeling of guilt may be so severe that it leads to delusion, which is an inability to see things for what they really are, therefore holding onto false beliefs.
Information For Family Carers And Friends
You can get support if you are a carer, friend or family member of someone living with depression.
Being a carer might mean you can claim certain benefits that might help you and the person you care for. For more information, please see the Mental Health and Money Advice services website:www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/welfare-benefits/what-benefits-are-available-for-mental-health-carers/
You could also get in touch with carer support groups or sibling support groups. You can search for local groups in your area online or ask your GP.
You can ask your local authority for a carers assessment if you need more practical support to help care for someone.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. There are rules about information sharing and confidentiality which may make it difficult for you to get all the information you need in some circumstances.
You can find out more information about:
How can I support the person that I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with depression if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills. You can use this to support them to get help and stay well.
Below are some initial suggestions for providing practical day to day support to someone with depression.
You can find out more information about:
You can find more information about:
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Feeling Depressed Or Suffering From Depression
We often get mixed up between low mood and unhappiness and depression. The two things are very different. Depression isnt about feeling unhappy, its feeling youll never be happy again, explains Colin Grange, Psychologist and Clinical Director of Lifeworks.
If youre feeling low, is it starting to interfere with your day to day life? Are you not doing things that you used to do? Are you losing motivation in and enjoyment of life? Are you starting to not enjoy your hobbies? Is everything becoming an effort?
People suffering from clinical depression often experience a range of symptoms both physical and emotional which can interfere with day to day life. Discovering whether you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms could be an important step towards getting the help you need.
Quiz: Am I depressed?
Can’t Enjoy Sex Fun Or Friends
This is a biggie. Activities you used to enjoy may now feel like a burden. If you’ve been depressed in the past and notice that you’ve lost feelings for your spouse or children, aren’t interested in work, hobbies, or other favorite activities for more than 2 weeks, you might be relapsing. It’s more likely if your symptoms come back within 6 months of an episode. Ask your doctor for help.
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Who Is This Depression Quiz For
Below is a list of 10 questions designed to help you determine if you might be experiencing depression. The questions relate to life experiences common among people who have depression. Please read each question carefully, and indicate how often you have experienced the same or similar challenges in the past few weeks.
Overeating Or Loss Of Appetite
Depression can often cause a lack of interest in food and weight loss. In other people, depression leads to overeating and weight gain. This is because a person may feel so frustrated or miserable that they turn to food as a means to escape their problems. However, overeating can lead to weight gain and cause you to exhibit low levels of energy. Not enough food can also cause you to also have low energy levels and feel weak.
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Depression Is A Real Medical Condition
Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. Depression symptoms can interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy your life. Although researchers are still studying the causes of depression, current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Most people with depression need treatment to feel better.
Talk About Your Thoughts And Feelings
Its a good idea to talk to someone that you trust about your thoughts and feelings. Talking to others can help you feel understood and can also help you see things from a different point of view. You might:
- talk to your family or friends, a teacher or coach, your mob or Elders
- get support from online communities or resources, or express thoughts to yourself in a personal journal
- connect with others and be part of a group, like a sporting club or religious group, to manage feelings of loneliness.
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The Risk Of Isolation
It can sometimes be hard to explain your thoughts and feelings to others. You might find it difficult to talk about your depression and instead you might cut yourself off from other people. The more overwhelming your symptoms, the more isolated and lonely you might become.
Without treatment and support, depression can have an impact on your relationships, work, finances and overall health, so it’s important to get help as early as possible. See our pages on treatment and support for more information.
“It feels like I’m stuck under a huge grey-black cloud. It’s dark and isolating, smothering me at every opportunity.”
Depression And The Link Between Suicide And Self Harm
Some young people who experience depression self harm or experience thoughts of suicide. Self harm and thoughts about suicide are often ways of trying to cope with difficult emotions.
If you have thoughts of suicide or self harm its really important to talk to someone you trust, such as a family member, friend, an Elder or teacher.
You can also develop a safety plan yourself to help cope with feelings of distress and suicidal thoughts by using the BeyondNow app.
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Common Myths Or Misconceptions
Despite ongoing efforts by researchers, medical professionals, and patients to raise awareness, stigma continues to be a reality for people living with depression. This is partly because of the many damaging myths that exist.
These misconceptions can prevent someone from recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression or from getting the help they need. Here we debunk some common depression myths.
Where Can I Find Clinical Trials For Depression
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so others may receive better help in the future.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials information.
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What Is The Link Between Smoking And Mental Health Conditions
Smoking is much more common among adults with mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, than in the general population.6 About 3 out of every 10 cigarettes smoked by adults in the United States are smoked by persons with mental health conditions.6 Why smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions is uncertain. More research is needed to determine this. No matter the cause smoking is not a treatment for depression or anxiety. Getting help for your depression and anxiety and quitting smoking is the best way to feel better.
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