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Understanding Depression Symptoms

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Depression and depression symptoms are debilitating and problematic issues that can impede a person’s ability to live to their full potential. Getting help for this mental health disorder is vital if you or your loved one is struggling.

Data from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), over 17 million adults in the US experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017, resulting in a variety of debilitating depression symptoms which we’ll outline today.

The 18 to 25-year-old demographic is most prone to experiencing depressive episodes, according to the same NIMH data. Females experience more depressive episodes than males.

It’s normal to find shifts in mood as life ebbs and flows. When depression symptoms start impairing your everyday life, though, you could be suffering from some form of clinical depression and it is a good idea to seek out a depression treatment center.

The following are the most common types of depression:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Seasonal depression
  • Postpartum depression

Symptoms of Depression

Although there are many different types of depression, the following symptoms are commonplace across all types:

  • Depressed mood
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Reduced interest in normal activities
  • Deep fatigue and listlessness
  • Unexplained outbursts of anger
  • Loss of libido
  • Changes to appetite
  • Unintentional weight gain or weight loss
  • Slowed speech and movements
  • Problems with focus and decision-making
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
  • Loss of energy
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Issues at work
  • Job loss
  • Suicidal ideation or suicide attempts

If you experience any of the above depression symptoms, especially if you encounter several symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Open up about your concerns and ask for a mental health assessment.

Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms

According to ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), major depressive disorder is one of the most common types of depression and affects almost 7% of the US population at any given time.

With major depressive disorder, the following are the most common symptoms:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Irritability

Most of these symptoms will persist for two weeks, sometimes more.

If you don’t take action and treat major depressive disorder, the symptoms are likely to persist. With the right course of antidepressants in combination with psychotherapy, though, treatment outcomes are usually favorable.

Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar disorder was once referred to as a manic depression.

This disorder impacts 2.8% of the US population and is characterized by a full spectrum of moods.

Depressive episodes are diagnosed in those with bipolar if this lasts for most of the day almost every day for two weeks or more. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of feelings in normal activities
  • Lowered libido
  • Decreased energy levels
  • Problems with focus
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping disturbances  
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Suicidal thoughts

Manic episodes are diagnosed when three or more of the following symptoms occur for most of the day almost every day for one week or more:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Euphoric mood
  • Racing thoughts
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor judgment
  • Spending sprees
  • Increased libido
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Denial that a problem exists

These continuously shifting moods trigger many problems in day-to-day life for those suffering from bipolar disorder.

Seasonal Depression Symptoms

Seasonal depression, also known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is diagnosed if you experience the following symptoms for three consecutive winters:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Overeating
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

Exposure to natural light or light therapy can be beneficial for alleviating these symptoms.

Postpartum Depression Symptoms

Postpartum depression is sometimes mistaken for a case of the baby blues, but the symptoms of postpartum depression are not only more intense, but they also last longer.

In some cases, symptoms are so severe that they can impact your ability to look after your baby or to handle regular daily tasks.

Symptoms can develop during pregnancy, but they typically manifest within a few weeks of giving birth. Common symptoms include:

  • Excessive crying
  • Depressed mood
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Problems bonding with your baby
  • Loss of appetite
  • Eating more than usual
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Reduced pleasure in activities you enjoyed
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling you are not a good mother
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Physical Symptoms of Depression

Despite having a powerful emotional component, depression of all types can also trigger physical pain in the following areas:

  • General physical pain
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Weakened immune system
  • Extreme fatigue
  • High blood pressure

General physical pain

You may experience aches and pains in your joints, limbs, or back when you are diagnosed with depression.

Sometimes, you could experience an all-over body pain that debilitates you.

Research is ongoing into the link between physical pain and depression.

Gastrointestinal issues

If you’re suffering from depression, you may experience:

  • Stomach problems
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Constipation

Weakened immune system

Stress can compromise your immune system, and depression can be a very stressful disorder.

This not only heightens your chance of getting sick, but also means it will take you longer to recover.

Extreme fatigue

Chronic fatigue and depression are strongly linked. Even getting out of bed or performing basic daily chores can seem unmanageable to someone suffering from depression.

High blood pressure

Sustained stress is associated with hypertension. As such, it’s commonplace for people suffering from depression to have high blood pressure.

Psychological Symptoms of Depression

The core psychological symptoms of depression are:

  • Persistently depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in life in general
  • Reduced interest in favored activities
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • An absence of hope
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

These symptoms should be acknowledged and treated rather than neglected, ignored, or self-medicated against.

Depression and Addiction Symptoms

When depression co-occurs with addiction in the form of alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder, this is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

The addiction and mental health conditions can feed into each other. The most common symptoms of depression and addiction co-occurring involve people self-medicating.

Using alcohol or drugs to ease the symptoms of depression is commonplace but inadvisable. Not only does this achieve nothing in terms of addressing the root problem, but you’ll often find the symptoms of depression you are trying to soothe are instead inflamed.

When depression co-occurs with addiction, you should engage with a dual diagnosis treatment program, one of the many ways we can help you here at Renaissance Recovery Center.

Rehab Center for Depression at Renaissance Recovery

If you are suffering from episodes of depression that persist and interfere with your daily living, it’s time to take action, and you don’t need to do this alone.

At Renaissance Recovery Center, our depression treatment programs and mental health IOP programs can help you to combat your mental health condition along with any underlying alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder.

If you have dual diagnosis, you should first detox and withdraw from the substances you are using before you engage with treatment. When your body is toxin-free and you are abstinent, it’s possible to obtain a more precise diagnosis. This will lead to a more effectively tailored treatment program with a greater chance of success.

Antidepressants are often effective for treating the symptoms of depression. The main types of this medication include:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors)
  • Atypical antidepressants

Regardless of the type and mechanism of action, antidepressants perform the same broad role of addressing chemical imbalances in the brain. 

Often, you’ll need to experiment with several different antidepressants before finding one that works. This form of medication usually takes a few weeks before you start noticing the full benefits. 

Alongside medication-assisted treatment, talk therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) can help you counter the negative and flawed thinking that can trigger depressive episodes. As you discover healthier coping strategies and become more confident of implementing them instead of resorting to substance abuse, you’ll become stronger and more secure in your recovery. 

All you need to do is reach out to the friendly Renaissance admissions team at 866.330.9449.866.330.9449

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

Paige R

“Renaissance Recovery truly changed my life.”

Courtney S

” I’m grateful for my experience at Renaissance, the staff are very experienced, they gave me the hope I needed in early sobriety, and a variety of coping mechanisms that I can use on a daily basis.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country