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Depression Symptoms To Watch For

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on March 18, 2022.

Symptom 1: Feeling Sad Most Days Or Crying A Lot Of The Time

There are many reasons why we cry. Hurt feelings, missed opportunities, lost love, even feeling empathy for others. But if you have been feeling sad or down almost every day now for several weeks, and it is affecting your sleep, energy levels, or social life, it may be a symptom of depression.

Chemicals within our brain control our emotions and every now and then the balance of these can be upset. Realigning these chemicals doesn’t necessarily have to happen with medication. There are many behavioral therapies that can naturally improve the balance. Ask your doctor for advice.

Symptom 2: Feeling Down Is Stopping You Doing The Things You Love

Everybody has something that makes them happy. It might be seeing a movie, going on holiday, surfing the waves, creating art, or just hanging out with friends.

If activities you loved doing just don’t interest you anymore - either because it’s difficult to concentrate, or you’re just too sad to do them - it may be a sign of depression.

Symptom 3: Can't Get To Sleep, Stay Asleep or Sleep Too Much

Sleep and depression have a complex association - depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depression.

Most adults need at least 8 hours sleep a night, and teenagers at least 10, but surveys indicate most people get nowhere near this. Improving your sleep habits could make a big difference to your mood.

Set regular sleep and wake-up times, and stick to them even on weekends. Avoid stimulating activities (such as computers, electronic games), drinks (for example, caffeine, beverages containing sugar), and eating a big meal at least 2 hours before bed. Exercise daily, but not too late at night, and avoid taking naps during the day.

Symptom 4: Feeling Tired All The Time Or Lacking In Energy

Coping with everyday activities is hard when you feel tired all the time. Sometimes it’s just easier to call in sick rather than try and cope with the pressures of school or work when you’re already exhausted.

But an overwhelming sense of tiredness is one of the most prevalent signs of depression and affects your concentration, productivity, and can make you really irritable.

Symptom 5: Does Food No Longer Interest You Or Are You Overeating?

Many people find they either stop eating or over eat when they are depressed. Neither are healthy. Deficiencies in nutrients such as omega 3’s, vitamin D, chromium, B vitamins or protein can happen from a lack of food, or from eating unhealthy foods. Diets high in fat and sugar, while seeming to offer a temporary mood boost, actually increase depression and encourage overeating.

Plan to have three meals a day and eat before you get really hungry. Keep healthy snacks on hand and keep alcohol and sugary treats to a minimum.

Symptom 6. Do You Feel Guilty A Lot?

Guilt is an emotion that we learn early on during childhood. It teaches us to modify our behavior so we know the consequences of making the same mistake twice.

People with depression; however, often feel guilty about minor things or about things that are beyond their control. They may find it difficult to move on from this guilt and may spend the next few weeks, months, or years in a hole of self-blame. This type of guilt is unhealthy, or inappropriate and just serves to wear down your self-esteem. Depression thrives in people who constantly set themselves unrealistically high standards, which leave them feeling worthless or of low value when they fail to meet them.

Symptom 7: Is It Hard For You To Concentrate?

Sitting down and focusing on a task is difficult when you have depression.

Your mind may seem crowded with negative thoughts with no room for following the thread of a newspaper article or the plot of a TV show. You may feel restless and have difficulty sitting still and find it hard to make a decision about even the most minor things.

An inability to concentrate or focus can be a sign of depression.

Symptom 8. Is It An Effort To Talk Or Add Excitement To Your Voice?

Engaging in conversation takes effort when you’re feeling down. Jumbled thoughts make it difficult to actually say what you want to say; and then when you do say it, the words tend to come out in a monotone drawl.

People may find it hard to follow your stories, or you may notice yourself having “mind blanks”....frequent episodes of suddenly losing your train of thought. Occasionally the opposite is true, and for some people with depression, their speech becomes unusually rapid or they talk gibberish.

If you have noticed changes in the way you speak and you are feeling some of the other symptoms discussed here, ask your doctor to screen you for depression.

Symptom 9. Do You Feel There Is No Point Anymore?

For some people there is no light at the end of the tunnel, and death feels like the easiest end to the pain that depression causes.

But help is just a phone call away. If suicide seems like the only answer to your problems, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) toll-free, no matter what hour of the day.

Feeling suicidal is not a character defect, and doesn’t mean that you are crazy, weak or flawed. Getting help for your hurt is the first step on your road to recovery. Talk openly with any friends or family members about suicide if you think they are having suicidal thoughts, and support them to get help. You just might save a life.

There Is A Way Through Depression

If some of the symptoms in this slideshow are familiar to you, then talk to your doctor about a screening test for depression.

Depression is a common medical condition that affects people from all walks of life in many different ways. Don’t let it take over YOUR life. Left untreated, depression can reinforce itself in a downward spiral of worsening mood, and become a serious and dangerous condition.

Depression is very treatable if you combat it head on. Your doctor can help you plan effective strategies for tackling depression and moving forward with your life.

Finished: Depression Symptoms To Watch For

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  • Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety. February 8, 2022 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • What is Depression? Students Against Depression 2021.
  • Why sleep is important. American Psychological Association 2022.
  • Targum SD, Fava M. Fatigue as a Residual Symptom of Depression. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 2011;8(10):40-43.
  • Suicide Prevention. Oct 2021.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.