Depression is a complex and often silent condition, and the symptoms of depression can manifest in various ways. Nearly 19 million adults struggle with major depression in the US alone¹, with over 280 million people directly impacted worldwide². According to the World Health Organization, depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide².
Because of the stigma surrounding mental health and differences in how we experience depression, its signs and symptoms can often go unnoticed and untreated. As a result, people may struggle in silence or take drastic measures to find relief.
In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at some of the common signs of depression so that more people can get the support they need. With professional help, it’s possible to manage the symptoms of depression and address the root cause for long-term healing.
What’s the difference between depression and sadness?
Everyone occasionally struggles with sadness – it’s a valid human emotion. Typically, we can connect sadness to a loss or another painful life event.
Depression differs from regular sadness because it is persistent. Depression can be debilitating to the point of disrupting your day-to-day life. While sadness will typically dissipate with time, depression lingers and can worsen with specific triggers.
Depression can present in many forms for many reasons. You don’t have to experience significant trauma or a life-altering event to be impacted by depression. Knowing the signs of depression can help raise awareness so that you or a loved one can get the support you need to heal.
Common Symptoms of Depression
Depression is more than just feeling sad all the time. Many of the symptoms of depression have nothing to do with sadness. Here are some of the more common signs of depression:
1. Consistently low mood
It’s normal to experience changes in our emotions – we are all human, after all. Depression involves a persistently low mood that can feel all-consuming. If your low mood is unchanged by activities you previously enjoyed, or if your low mood extends for over six to eight weeks, this could be a sign of depression.
2. Disinterest or avoidance of once enjoyed hobbies
Our favorite activities and experiences are a big part of who we are and how we process our day-to-day life. When we lose interest in the things that used to bring us joy, this can significantly indicate something deeper beyond the surface.
With depression, you might find yourself drawn to distraction, prioritizing activities that require way less effort. On the other hand, you may feel better if you completely abandon anything that requires physical or emotional engagement.
3. Trouble with concentration or memory
Because of its impact on the brain, many people with depression report symptoms of memory loss or difficulty focusing. This could be because depression affects the hippocampus and the brain’s hyper-focus on negative thoughts and memories.
When your brain is constantly overstimulated with heavy emotions and thoughts, it can become difficult to focus on current tasks or make appropriate emotional connections with everyday experiences.
4. Significant changes in eating or sleeping patterns
Changes in appetite are common for people with depression. Many people will either use food to repress emotions or increase serotonin. Others sometimes feel complete displeasure from food or have little energy to prepare and consume a meal.
Similarly, oversleeping or under-sleeping can be a symptom of depression. Oversleeping can be due to increased intrusive emotions causing extreme fatigue, whereas under-sleeping can be caused by hyperarousal and stress leading to disrupted sleep patterns.
5. Decreased self-care
With low feelings of self-worth or increased apathy, it can become harder and harder to take care of yourself. People struggling with depression might forget or avoid basic self-care tasks like eating, sleeping, showering, or brushing their teeth.
Over time, these chores can begin to pile up and cause depressive symptoms to worsen, creating a cycle that’s difficult to break.
6. Physical pains and additional health issues
Many people assume depression only really impacts emotions, however, there are many situations in which your emotional state and physical state can influence one another.
According to the NCBI, depression and pain share a common neurochemical pathway. This is why depression is linked to increased joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes³.
The link is so strong that individuals who experience a high number of physical symptoms may be more likely to have a mood disorder than patients with only a few physical symptoms³.
Over time, a decreased interest in activities and changes in eating patterns can affect physical health, which in turn takes a toll on your mental state.
7. Feeling pessimistic or hopeless
Depression can make it extremely difficult to have a positive outlook on life and negatively impact personal self-worth. As a result, someone with depression may experience withdrawal from people and activities.
8. Increased irritability or anger
It can be extremely draining to struggle with heavy emotions day after day, so it makes sense that someone experiencing depression may become irritable and angry over time. Depression can often feel like a cloud that filters everything through a lens of negativity, making it challenging to maintain a positive outlook.
As a result, someone with depression may struggle with regulating their own emotions, especially in stressful situations. They may find themselves unintentionally snapping at loved ones or strangers when coping with the psychological and physical weight of the disorder. They may also experience heightened anxiety or recurring traumatic memories.
9. Co-occurring disorders
Sometimes people with depression struggle with other co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or substance use disorder (SUD). They may deal with extreme self-deprecation or guilt that can persist into a state of helplessness.
10. Substance use
Emotions are difficult enough to deal with, so, understandably, someone might turn to coping mechanisms as an escape when those feelings are consistently heavier. In the absence of support and healthy coping strategies, someone may turn to substances or alcohol to numb the pain and control intense emotions, intrusive memories, or waves of anxiety.
This is especially true for people struggling with more than one mental health disorder such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
11. Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Depression doesn’t always result in suicidal ideation, but it is often the case in more extreme conditions.
Having obsessive or intrusive thoughts of suicide is a serious sign of needing more immediate help. Even more casual remarks about death should not be taken lightly.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and experiencing thoughts of suicide, reach out for professional help. In an emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.
Finding Relief from Depression Symptoms
There are many options available to help people cope with depression, and it’s possible to put depression symptoms in remission. If you’re concerned you may be struggling with depression, reaching out for help is the best method for effective recovery. A healthcare professional can help you get a psychological assessment and a diagnosis, and from there, you can work with a professional to build a treatment plan.
Medications and Therapy
In most cases, medication, talk therapy, or a combination of the two can be extremely helpful in managing the symptoms of depression. According to the American Academy of Clinical Psychology, a combination of medications and therapy may normalize the brain changes associated with depression.
There are many forms of therapy for depression and a wide range of anti-depressants. It can take some time and adjustment to find a fit that works best for your individual biology.
That being said, if medication and therapy aren’t working, there are other options you can pursue.
Deep TMS for Depression
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is an FDA-approved, non-invasive brain stimulation technique that uses pulsed magnetic fields to activate specific neural circuits associated with depression. This technology can be a lifesaving option for people who have struggled with treatment-resistant depression.
Clients who have received Deep TMS for depression noticed immediate relief with increased effects over time. Each session lasts no more than 20 minutes, and Deep TMS requires no downtime.
For someone who has struggled with depression without relief, Deep TMS can offer a beacon of hope and a path forward. Deep TMS has shown to be effective for 3 out of 4 major depression patients, with a 51% remission rate and 75% response rate⁴.
HBOT for Depression
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is another emerging technology that can help treat depression. An HBOT chamber saturates the air with therapeutic levels of oxygen. As you breathe in, your blood cells distribute oxygen-rich plasma throughout the body to decrease inflammation and promote healing.
HBOT can be helpful for people with depression associated with certain medical issues. Most recently, HBOT has shown promise as an intervention for depression that has been resistant to treatment with medication alone⁵.
Seeking Treatment for Depression
Depression can be debilitating, and recognizing the symptoms of depression and seeking support is often the most difficult step in healing. At All Points North, we understand that the mental and physical symptoms of depression can be overwhelming, and we’re here to help. We’ll take care of everything so that you can focus on finding relief and healing.
At the Lodge, we incorporate therapy, medication, a luxury healing environment, and cutting-edge technology like Deep TMS and HBOT for a deeply personalized approach to treating depression. We’re able to address common co-occurring disorders that may present with depression, like anxiety, PTSD, and substance use disorder.
At APN, you don’t have to shoulder depression alone. We care about your well-being, and we’ll be with you every step of the way as you move towards recovery. If you’re struggling with any of the signs of depression, reach out to our team today at 855-510-4585, or start a now. We’re here to help.
- “Major Depression.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Jan. 2022, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.
- “Depression.” World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression.
- Trivedi, Madhukar H. “The link between depression and physical symptoms.” Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry vol. 6,Suppl 1 (2004): 12-6.
- “Deep TMS Treatment for Depression.” BrainsWay, https://www.brainsway.com/treatments/major-depressive-disorder/.
- Krzystanek, Marek et al. “Whole Body Cryotherapy and Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment: New Biological Treatment of Depression? A Systematic Review.” Pharmaceuticals 14.6 (2021): 595. Crossref. Web.
Reviewed by Emmeline Massey MSW, LSW