Depression is a common mood disorder that causes persistent sadness, loss of interest, and other severe symptoms that affect a person’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior. And because depression affects a person’s daily life, we will outline the key symptoms of depression in the following article.
General symptoms of depression
The symptoms of depression are inherently complex and can vary from person to person. However, generally, most individuals with depression experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of passion and interest in activities they previously enjoyed.
In addition, several other categories of symptoms can be identified, which can be divided into several sections, as follow:
1- Psychological symptoms
The prominent psychological symptoms of depression include the following:
- The persistent feeling of sadness and despair
Constant sadness and frustration are considered one of the most well-known psychological symptoms of depression; this feeling overwhelms the individual most of the time, making them unable to enjoy their day and feel optimistic.
- Low self-esteem and a sense of worthlessness
This happens through questioning one’s self-worth and blaming oneself for everything.
- Feeling guilt and crying easily
Feeling intense guilt towards all events and experiencing rapid crying when exposed to situations that do not usually warrant tears.
- Constant feelings of anxiety and irritability
Most individuals with depression suffer from constant anxiety, excessive focus on specific issues, and feelings of irritability, tension, and panic attacks.
- Having thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Whether intentional or unintentional.
- Other symptoms:
Other psychological symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling constricted and intolerant of others.
- Loss of passion and lack of drive or interest in things.
- Difficulty making decisions.
2- Physical symptoms
- Changes in appetite or weight
Appetite and weight may increase in some individuals while decreasing in others.
- Digestive disturbances
Patients may experience symptoms such as indigestion, nausea, abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Loss of energy
Despite getting sufficient sleep at night, the person feels a lack of energy.
- Feeling pain throughout the body
Patients may experience unexplained body aches, such as joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, and headaches.
- Sleep disturbances
For example, some individuals may have difficulty sleeping at night or experience early morning awakenings, while others may sleep for long hours.
- Other symptoms:
Other physical symptoms of depression include:
- Decreased or loss of libido (sexual desire).
- Speaking or moving more slowly than usual.
3- Social symptoms
Among the most prominent are the following:
- Reduced participation in social activities and avoiding interactions with others.
- Persistent neglect of hobbies and personal interests.
- Difficulty functioning at work and communicating with family members.
Symptoms of depression according to age groups
Common symptoms of depression are similar across different age groups, including young children, adolescents, and older adults. However, some symptoms may manifest differently in each age group. This can be illustrated as follows:
In addition to the general symptoms of depression, younger children may experience the following:
- Increased emotional clinginess.
- Frequent crying and outbursts of anger.
- Anxiety or panic when faced with everyday situations.
- Refusal to go to school.
- Excessive thinness.
It is worth noting that these symptoms can sometimes be confused with signs of normal growth or hormonal changes that children go through during their development. Therefore, it is advisable to consult a doctor if any of the symptoms above are observed in a child.
In general, symptoms of depression in teenagers manifest as excessive anger, despair, and feelings of guilt, in addition to the following:
- Low self-esteem.
- Loss of hope in life and the future.
- Excessive sensitivity.
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits.
- Loss of interest in hobbies and school activities.
- Isolation and withdrawal from social and family activities.
- Decline in academic performance.
- Self-harming behaviors and negative thoughts towards oneself.
- Changes in overall appearance or neglect of personal hygiene.
- Drug or alcohol abuse.
It should be noted that the appearance of any of the symptoms above warrants a visit to a doctor; these symptoms may be part of normal development and emotional fluctuations that teenagers go through during this stage of their lives.
The symptoms of depression in older adults may be different or less pronounced, and they may be attributed to aging or age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease; some of these symptoms include:
- Social isolation and a desire to stay at home.
- Physical pain and general fatigue.
- Memory problems.
- Loss of sexual desire.
- Loss of interest in life and increased suicidal thoughts.
Symptoms of depression according to gender
The diagnosis rate of depression in females is approximately twice that of males. There are some differences in the symptoms experienced by both males and females, usually appearing in early adolescence, and include the following:
- The way depression is expressed, for example:
- Females: Symptoms of depression in females may manifest as dissatisfaction with their body image, feelings of guilt, and constant failure; as they age, females are more likely to experience increased stress, sadness, and sleep problems.
- Males: Males often express their depression through isolation and loss of interest in usual activities; as they age, they tend to experience anger and irritability.
- The prevalence of suicidal ideation and self-harm
Although suicidal ideation is prevalent among females, the suicide rate among males is four times higher than among females.
When should you consult a doctor?
As we mentioned earlier, the symptoms above do not necessarily mean you have depression; however, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we advise you to consult a qualified healthcare professional immediately.
It is also essential to seek medical advice promptly in the following situations:
- Feeling sad, crying, or experiencing fatigue most of the time.
- The persistence of the symptoms above for two weeks or more.
- The impact of the signs on the person’s behavior and relationships with family and work.
- The emergence of suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm.