Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Even with all the progress that medical science has made in treating disorders like depression, the phrase “mental health” still scares people. Knowing the signs and symptoms of depression can make it easier to get professional treatment.

According to the NIMH, 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.

No one wants to have a mental disorder, much less talk about it if they’ve been diagnosed with one. The truth is it’s more common than most people realize.

  • According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 43.8 percent of adults in the United States experience some sort of mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment.

  • Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.
  • There are several forms of depressive disorders.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder or chronic depression has symptoms that interfere with working, sleeping, studying, eating, and enjoying life.

Major Depressive Disorder is one of the most common forms of mental illness. Nearly 7 percent of the people in the United States have experienced at least one episode in their lifetime.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, previously called manic-depressive illness, is not as common as a major depressive disorder—bipolar disorder cycles between mood changes—from extreme highs to extreme lows.

Regardless of how an individual develops depression, the symptoms can be excruciating. Without proper treatment, depression can spiral out of control and lead to a myriad of other difficulties. While not everyone experiences the same symptoms during a depressive episode, some of the most common signs of the condition.


People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular condition.

“It was tough to get out of bed in the morning. I just wanted to hide under the covers and not talk to anyone. I didn’t feel much like eating, and I lost a lot of weight. Nothing seemed fun anymore. I was tired all the time, and I wasn’t sleeping well at night. But I knew I had to keep going because I’ve got kids and a job. It just felt so impossible, like nothing was going to change or get better.”

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, and pessimism
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty moods
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or daily activities
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Consistently feeling restless or irritable
  • Trouble sleeping or being unable to stop oversleeping
  • Decrease in energy, feeling fatigued

The constant mental strain a person with depression deals with can manifest physical symptoms as well. These can include:

  • chronic headaches
  • indigestion
  • tightness in the chest
  • difficulty breathing

These symptoms are like another medical condition; an individual’s depression might go unnoticed and untreated.

One of the most common forms of mental illness that people experience is depression. Research suggests that 16 million Americans deal with at least one major episode of depression each year. Many factors can bring about depression, such as a family history of the condition, alcohol and drug abuse, or chronic physical pain.


The good news is that depression is a treatable illness. Most people see a noticeable improvement after proper diagnosis and treatment.

Though it varies depending on the type of depressive condition a person is experiencing, treatment generally involves some medication and counseling, which can address the cause of the depression. It gives a person the opportunity to develop strategies in preventing future episodes from taking over their life.

People need to seek help for their depression or family members, friends, or colleagues to ask about a person’s wellbeing. If it is left untreated, depression can recur more often and last longer.

It can also lead to destructive behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse to self-medicate the painful symptoms. Studies show that prolonged depression can even make a recovery from another severe illness more difficult. In short, untreated depression can ruin lives.


As public awareness around mental health issues expands and evolves, two of the key elements to highlight are understanding and compassion.

So often, people suffering from depression are embarrassed that they can’t just “pick themselves up by the bootstraps” and get on with their everyday lives. The fact is no one should have to live with depression.