January 21, 2023

You might have heard depression called “having the blues” or “being down in the dumps.”  Anyone can feel sad, lonely, or depressed at times. Sometimes life’s challenges are hard and make it difficult to stay positive and upbeat.

Mild, temporary depression is not uncommon. Clinical depression is different, though. Clinical depression is a mental health issue that can affect and disrupt a person’s ability to function. According to WebMD, one out of ten people with major clinical depression attempt suicide.

According to Mayo Clinic, “A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life. Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological, and social sources of distress. Increasingly, research suggests these factors may cause changes in brain function, including altered activity of certain neural circuits in the brain. The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms. These may include changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, or self-esteem. Depression can also be associated with thoughts of suicide. The mainstay of treatment is usually medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two. Increasingly, research suggests these treatments may normalize brain changes associated with depression.”

Diagnosing Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a person must experience symptoms for at least two weeks. This amount of time separates mild, temporary depression from diagnosed major depression. In many cases, the symptoms last longer, especially without treatment.

Some forms of depression develop under specific circumstances or are slightly different than overall depression. They include:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder, also known as dysthymia. A person with persistent depressive disorder has symptoms for at least two years. They may have periods of major depression alternating with periods of less severe symptoms.
  • Post-Partum Depression. New mothers who experience severe, major depression after pregnancy may be diagnosed with post-partum depression.
  • Psychotic Depression. This is a combination of major depression and psychosis.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People may experience SAD when the days are shorter, and there is less daylight.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. This is a diagnosis in children and teens who suffer angry moods and frequent temper outbursts.
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. This disorder is a severe and debilitating form of premenstrual syndrome.

Symptoms Of Major Depression

The doctors at the Mayo Clinic state that major depression symptoms occur most of the day and on most days for at least two weeks.

The symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Anger, frustration, and outbursts especially over minor things
  • Loss of interest activities once enjoyed
  • Poor sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite, losing weight
  • Weight gain, craving food
  • Feeling restless
  • Anxiety
  • Speaking slower, and moving slower
  • Guilt, feelings of worthlessness and ruminating thoughts
  • Poor concentration
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Obsessing over death
  • Physical aches not otherwise explained.

Researchers have identified that although symptoms of major depression can affect any gender or age group, there are specific signs that may also be present in children, teens, the elderly, women, and men.

Symptoms in Children

Additional symptoms in younger children may include:

  • Sadness
  • Being irritable
  • Clinging to caretakers
  • Chronic worry
  • Body aches
  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Underweight

Symptoms in Teens

Teenagers are often perceived as moody and irritable, but major depression in teens may have these additional symptoms:

  • Feeling irritable and sad
  • Negativity
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Anger and angry outbursts
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Poor performance at school
  • Missing school
  • Feeling misunderstood
  • Overeating
  • Sleeping too much
  • Harming the self, such as cutting
  • Lost interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Avoiding friends and social events

Symptoms in The Elderly

Depression is not a normal part of aging. Symptoms of depression in elderly adults may not be as noticeable as in younger people.

The symptoms include:

  • Memory problems
  • Changes in personality
  • Physical aches not otherwise explained
  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor Sleep
  • No interest in social activities
  • Suicidal thoughts, especially seen in older men

Be aware of the different symptoms of major depression. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, talk to a doctor, mental health professional, or contact a mental health helpline.

Does any of this resonate with you? 

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