10 Symptoms of Depression

Depression is often thought of as simply feeling sad. Someone may say they’re feeling “depressed” after having a bad day at work or watching a melancholy movie. The truth is that there’s much more to depression than just feeling down. Whereas typical sadness is situational and often goes away on its own, depression is chronic and persists even when external circumstances improve.

Though most individuals with depression first begin experiencing symptoms in adolescence or early adulthood, onset can occur at any age. Sometimes onset can be triggered by a life change, traumatic events or even extreme stress; often, however, it seems to appear for no reason. 6.7% of the US population suffers from depression. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to have the disorder.

Signs and symptoms of depression vary wildly from person to person. Two people may both have depression but have hardly any symptoms in common. For this reason, it’s important to be familiar with all the possible symptoms. Below are the ten most common signs of depression and how to identify them.

1. Anxiety

When faced with a new, unusual or important situation, we feel fearful of the unknown. Fear causes the brain to initiate a “fight or flight” response – a rapid release of adrenaline that causes elevated heart rate, rapid shallow breathing and shaking, among other symptoms. This is a normal physiological response to danger that is found not just in humans but in many other animals as well.

In individuals with depression, fear can be misplaced. When this happens, it becomes anxiety. For example, a walk to the store to buy bread is not a life-endangering task that carries a threat of imminent harm. But depression can cause the brain to believe that it is. The thought of walking to the store activates the brain’s fear response. To an outside observer, it can seem like an overreaction to a mundane situation. But to the individual, it feels out of control, and harm seems inevitable. Thoughts race, perspiration increases and restlessness takes over. True to the term “fight or flight”, the individual may become defensive and irritable or feel an urge to run away, physically or mentally, from the situation.