16 Symptoms of depression every depressed person feels
When having an emotional distress, the first question we ask after feeling sad for a while is ‘could I be depressed?” after that, it is followed by “what are the symptoms of depression.”
I’ve been there a thousand times, and I can boldly tell you that depression is much deeper than feeling sad. The difference lies in their intensity, symptoms, and duration.
Though depression is the most common mental illness in the world, it is difficult to identify. This post will help you recognize if that lingering feeling of sadness is truly depression.
What is depression?
American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a prevalent severe mental illness that negatively affects how we look, think, act, or feel about ourselves, how we,.
It is characterized by a feeling of sadness and loss of activity. It could also cause low self-esteem and loss of focus.
What does depression feel like?
Everyone feels down every once in a while, but when such periods are accompanied by a lingering feeling of hopelessness and despair, it could be depression.
Depression is a feeling that goes deeper than the usual response to life’s struggle. It usually comes with a sense of powerlessness and can affect your daily function.
You may not be able to concentrate at work or with your studies; sometimes, it may be challenging to do your daily routine. Just the thought of getting out of bed can be overwhelming.
People describe depression as many things, but I say that it is like chewing gum stuck in your hair. Keeping it in there is terrible, and pulling it out is painful, so you are left struggling somewhere in between.
It is like living in a bottomless black hole. The feeling keeps getting intense, and you don’t know when you will hit rock bottom.
It makes you feel like impending doom or like your life is empty and you are about to lose it all.
A common feeling of depression that I can relate to is anger. However, when dealing with these things, we should remember that they are just the symptoms of depression and are not in any way who we are.
Signs and symptoms of depression
There are many symptoms of depression, and you will likely feel them all.
- Lingering sadness
The first symptom of depression is sadness that doesn’t go away. Sometimes, it feels like we will be sad forever!
Though sadness itself is not depression, lingering for longer than two weeks usually shows that it has graduated to something more severe.
- Loss of interest in activities
I loved doing spoken words a lot, but when depression became severe, I dropped it and never looked back. It is pretty interesting how depression can make us lose interest in things that were once ‘indispensable” to us.
Hobbies are not the only things we lose interest in when depressed. It could be difficult to enjoy activities like sex, fun games, pastimes, parties, and other social activities with our mental health takes a negative turn.
In a nutshell, depression can make you less able to feel the fun, joy, and pleasure you did before.
- Changes in sleeping patterns
You could be sleeping too much or too little. For me, it is the first. I could sleep from 6 pm to 7 am the next day, wake up, and feel like I never slept.
For some people, it is insomnia. You may realize that you lie in bed for a long time staring at the ceiling and thinking of God-knows-what and before you know it, the alarm rings; it is 5:30 am.
Though there have been no medical proofs showing that depression can cause anxiety, the two conditions usually occur together.
The symptoms of anxiety include:
- Nervousness, feeling tense, or restless
- A feeling of danger, dread, or panic
- Increased sweating
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle twitching or trembling
- Lack of focus
- Changes in appetite and weight
People usually have significant changes in their weight when depressed. This can be linked to the change in the feeding pattern.
Your appetite could become insatiable when you are depressed. When it feels like nothing else makes sense, we can trust the deliciousness from food and hang on till the last grain.
Also, food can be the last thing you want to have. Nothing feels important, not even food. This can lead to a significant amount of weight loss.
- Feeling hopeless
Have you ever felt like nothing is ever going to work out and your life will never get better? That is a sign of depression.
Even when things are truly working the way they should, depression will magnify the negatives and make it look like the positives don’t exist.
For instance, when you are just starting a new relationship after the last one ended terribly, it is possible to feel like this one won’t work. This may not be because of anything that the new partner is doing.
Depression does this, and you may find yourself crying for imaginary breakup statements that may never happen.
- Irritability and anger
Though irritability is a very common symptom of depression in men, women feel it too. This is where doors get banged, and glasses get shattered, for no good reason!
When depressed, you may feel restless and easily angered. Your tolerance level will become very low, and all of a sudden, shouting at your mom becomes very effortless.
- Lack of focus
Your grades may drop, or your performance becomes less appreciable. This is because you don’t just find it easy to focus on one thing for a long time.
Depression makes it difficult to keep things coordinated. You may find it difficult to remember the words your boss said 5 minutes ago.
Also, your decision making will be widely affected. Your judgment could be clouded, thereby leading you to make the wrong decisions.
In addition to hopelessness, you could have a strong feeling of guilt or worthlessness. This will be more common if there is something you did wrong that resulted badly.
Though a good amount of self-criticizing can help us become better, going to the extreme is usually not necessary. And since depression steps behind the steering of our minds, it keeps driving us to the extreme.
Physical symptoms of depression
Most times, we believe that since depression is a mental illness, it shouldn’t show much on the outside.
Truly, appearances may not properly show what you feel on the inside, but to some extent, they do.
Here are some physical symptoms of depression that show you are depressed:
- Lack of energy
Do you ever find it so hard to get out of bed or do your daily routine? Maybe you find your regular task too tedious for you now.
This low energy level is a sign of depression. In extreme cases, people feel too exhausted to care for themselves. A depressed friend once said that she feels too tired to take a bath.
Sadly, this low level may not affect you alone; it may extend to your partner or children if you have any.
- Increased sensitivity to pain
Does it ever feel like everything becomes too painful now? When depressed, it is easy to feel like every cut gets too deep.
There is a study from 2020 that proves that people with depression usually feel a significant impact from pain.
Though there are no clear terms on how these two symptoms relate, it is essential to treat them together. Tell your doctor about these symptoms when they occur. They should recommend medication.
- Stomach pain
There have been many complaints from people with depression that they feel a sinking pain in their stomach. Others say it is uneasiness in their abdomen. Sometimes, they mistake this symptom of depression for menstrual cramps or gas.
When the pains get worse as the stress increases, it could be a sign of depression. Even some researchers from Harvard Medical School suggest that bloating, cramps, nausea, and other discomforts around the stomach is a sign of poor mental health.
Scientists and doctors sometimes call the guts our “second brain.” The gut is highly connected to our mental health. When there is an upset in the balance of good bacteria, people can start experiencing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
From this fact, it is believed that taking probiotics and eating balanced meals can improve your gut health and, in turn, enhance your mood.
Since everyone has headaches when they feel stressed or fall ill, we often dismiss headaches as regular.
They could just come up during a stressful day, conflict, or lack of rest.
However, not every headache is a sign of stress, especially if you have been well-tolerated to your routine before. Frequent headaches can be a sign of depression.
These headaches may not be excruciating as migraines and may not impair your daily functioning. However, the National Headache Foundation describes this symptom of depression as “tension headaches.”
Tension headaches are usually mild and throbbing sensation that concentrates mainly on the brows.
These headaches are usually recurring, and sometimes, they can become chronic. When it becomes chronic, it could be a sign of a major depressive disorder.
Headaches from depression don’t occur alone. They are usually accompanied by other symptoms of depression like sadness, decreased energy, etc.
However, they can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers, but it is better to handle the depression problem well to get rid of the pain.
- Back or muscle pains
You could quickly develop back or muscle pain from sitting or standing for a while. If this is not a common occurrence to you, it could be a physical symptom of depression.
However, you must note that these symptoms of depression are usually associated with injuries, poor postures, but a study from 2017 showed that most people with depression suffer back pain.
Also, for many years now, psychologists and psychiatrists believe that emotional issues can cause chronic pains and aches.
This study shows that there is a connection between the body’s response system and depression.
- Eye problems
Some people realize that the world looks blurry, grey, or bleak. This is backed up by this study that was done in Germany in 2010. It suggests that people’s sight can be affected by depression.
This study still proves that about 80% of depressed people had challenges differentiating between white and black.
According to researchers, the term is called “contrast perception,” and it is the commonest explanation of why depressed people see the world to be hazy.
- Digestive problems or irregular bowel movements
Though constipation and diarrhea are symptoms of gastrointestinal viruses and food poisoning, they can also be a sign of depression and anxiety. It usually results from an upset balance in the digestive tract.
This study from 2011 suggests that there may be a link between depression, anxiety, and gastrointestinal pain.
Causes of depression
Depression is usually diagnosed, and its causes are numerous, and most times, a person will have more than one cause.
The following are the causes of depression as recognized by experts:
- Genetics: mood disorders, including depression, run in families. This is why it is easy to see a character trait in different members of a family. However, the fact that a person has a family history of depression does not mean that they will be depressed.
- Life occurrences: having a significant life change can cause depression. In fact, these are some of the most common causes of depression: significant events like losing a loved one, divorce or breakup, job loss, and financial problems, etc.
- Some illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and long-term pain can make a person develop depression. Also, depression is one of the primary symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Hormonal changes: people easily feel depressed and with low mood during premenstrual disorders, pregnancy, and menopause. This can be associated with the hormonal changes that occur during these periods.
- Medications: some types of medications like those used to treat high blood pressure cancer and some steroids have been known to increase people’s risk of depression.
- Abuse of substance: drug and alcohol abuse is one of the causes of depression. Also, a person may start abusing alcohol and drugs when they are depressed.
A doctor can diagnose depression, but you can know whether or not you are depressed without going to the hospital. However, it is best to have your case and cause confirmed by the doctor.
The following are the other symptoms that may occur alongside depression with respect to the contributing causes.
Symptoms of depression according to causes
Signs of depression with the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
There is a severe form of menstrual disorder experienced by five to eight percent of women. This disorder is the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
It is usually characterized by low mood, irritability, obsessive or ruminative thoughts, suicidal thoughts, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, pain in the joints and muscles, among other symptoms of depression.
These symptoms are usually present with bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and other symptoms of PMDD.
According to studies, women with PMDD have a higher chance of being depressed during pregnancy.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
People usually become depressed during their first year of having a baby. This depression is called postpartum depression.
Postpartum, depression is a type of perinatal depression (which occurs before and after having a baby).
Postpartum depression is more intense than the light ‘baby blues’, which most mothers experience between four and ten days after birth. Postpartum depression can make a new mother unable to care for herself and her newborn baby.
The symptoms of postpartum depression include extreme worries about the baby’s wellbeing (even when there is nothing wrong), anxiety, severe sadness, and exhaustion, alongside other symptoms of depression.
These signs are also the same for perinatal depression, and they can occur from the third trimester and last until one year after the baby is born.
Perinatal depression is a relatively common condition.
Signs of perimenstrual depression
The perimenstrual period is the time a woman approaches menopause, and some women usually experience depression.
The symptoms associated with perimenstrual depression include anxiety, irritability, extreme sadness, and other depression symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of depression associated with miscarriage, perinatal loss, or infertility
Losing a baby during a miscarriage or perinatal loss can be very painful; it is also the same with infertility.
During this period of grief, the patient can experience the symptoms of depression.
This feeling is usually limited to eight weeks, and if it exceeds, the patients should be evaluated for depressive disorder or major depression.
Signs of bipolar depressive disorder
Bipolar disorder was previously known as a manic disorder, and it is a condition that can shift a person’s mood to the extreme.
Bipolar disorder is more intense than ordinary depression. In fact, depression is only one of the symptoms of the disorder. The doctor must diagnose it.
The symptoms of depression from bipolar disorder include having extremely low or high mania and periods of intense symptoms of depression, as mentioned above.
Our brains communicate in different ways, and most of the time, it is through pain. This is why some symptoms of depression are painful.
So when you ask yourself, “Am I depressed?” check out these signs of depression listed above and see how they relate to you.