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Depression: Know the Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Depression


Depression is a very serious issue that often gets overlooked or ignored.  It is important to know the signs and symptoms so that you can help yourself or a loved one before its too late. A man sitting on a bench hunched over with his head restin gon his hand, in the background are various words that represent the feelings of depression


Here is a list of the signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder:

  • Sadness, depressed mood, crying over seemingly minor setbacks
  • Poor self-concept, low self-esteem, reluctance toward attempting endeavors
  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  • Changes in appetite (decreased appetite most common) often signaled by rapid weight gain or loss
  • Slowed inhibited actions (slow, soft speech; slowed body movements)
  • Fatigue, loss of pep and energy
  • Poor concentration, attention and/or memory
  • Thoughts or words about death or suicide

Most people will experience some of these symptoms from time to time, but in order for it to be considered a depressive disorder; you should be experiencing at least 5 of these symptoms, continuously, for at least 2 weeks.  At least one of those symptoms needs to be sadness/depressed mood or loss of interest in activities that were previously pleasurable.

Grieving the loss of a loved one may include some or all of the symptoms, however, it is important to remember that these feelings of sadness and physical, and emotional fatigue are often a normal part of the grieving process. It is possible that an extremely long period of grieving may develop into an episode of depression, but that is a fairly rare experience.

Depression is more common in adults than in children, but it does occur in children.  When children are depressed, their symptoms might be different than adults.  For example, rather than showing sadness or crying, some children behave badly or show a lot of anger.  They may be more cranky than usual, become picky about food, or may show a lack of interest in their usual activities.

What Causes Depression?

Scientists do not know exactly what causes a depressive disorder, and the cause might be different for each person.  There is some evidence that people’s genes may make them more likely to get depressed. Some people are more likely to experience depression if they have other family members (especially close family members) who have experienced depression.  Some research has shown that brain structure or activity is different during depression and is associated with disruptions of the brain chemicals.  There is also some evidence that having your hormones out of balance can contribute to depression.  Stressful life events can trigger depression in someone who may already be vulnerable to getting depressed.  Finally, certain medical conditions or medications can cause depression or symptoms that look like depression.  For example, hypothyroidism (low levels of thyroid hormone) can look like depression in some people.


There are several effective treatments, including the use of counseling, medication, or a combination of both.  Decades of research suggest that not all depressed individuals respond the same way to each of these treatments, but most people (more than 80%) improve with appropriate treatment.  Research suggests that most people with depression benefit the most from a combination of counseling and medication.

How to Get Help

If you think that you or someone you care about might be experiencing major depressive disorder, you may wish to discuss it with your doctor first, and he/she can help you to figure out whether this is a problem for you.  If so, your doctor may be able to help you find a medication to help you, or could refer you for counseling.

Jana Hart- Extension Agent- FCS/4-H

14 Comments on “Depression: Know the Signs and Symptoms

  1. Pingback: Bullying Prevention Taught to Taylor Middle School Youth - UF/IFAS Extension Taylor County

  2. Pingback: Talking to Your Children About Difficult News - UF/IFAS Extension Lafayette County

  3. Great article. Thank you for including counselling as a suggested treatment. Too often this form of therapy if overlooked in favour of medication. As a Psychotherapist I have helped may patients with mental illness seeking treatment for depression. How Psychotherapy differs from medication is that it treats the cause rather than the symptom. A Psychotherapist uses the thoughts, images and feelings that pass through your mind, as well as your relationship with a person, to discover patterns that give clues about psychological conflicts of which you are not aware, especially issues that are related to experiences early in life such as during childhood. By making you aware of these ‘unconscious’ conflicts, you can deal with them and resolve issues that cause depressed moods.

  4. I thought it was interesting that depression was more common in adults than children. I’m taking the required health class in college, and we’ve been discussing depression. Thanks for teaching me more about it and ways to get help with it.

  5. Hi, Thanks For Your Top-Notch Article. Most Likely, Depression Is Caused By A Combination Of Genetic, Biological, Environmental, And Psychological Factors, According To The NIMH. Certain Medical Conditions May Also Trigger Depression, Including An Underactive Thyroid Gland, Cancer, Heart Disease, Prolonged Pain, And Other Significant Illnesses.

  6. Depression can be a very serious mental health issues. I think the first step is really understanding your symptoms and that you’re not alone. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very useful in helping people become aware and change their negative thought patterns.

  7. I think it is very important for young people to day to know and understand the signs of depression. Awareness of our emotional states and thoughts is the first step in taking action to make changes in ones life.

  8. My co-worker has been manifesting signs of depression lately due to losing her husband. She is constantly crying, having thought of ending her life. I think there is a need for us to recommend her counseling and medication. You’ve said this two are powerful in helping a depressed individual cope. I hope she considers it soon.

  9. I appreciate that you mentioned that research suggests that most people with depression benefit the most from a combination of counseling and medication. My son has been struggling with depression and I am trying to find the best way to help him so that his mental state can improve and he can start living his life again. I think it would be smart to look into mental health counseling as well as getting him on medication so that he can improve in a healthy and steady way.

  10. depressive people need good and funny friends and good company. read story of my friend who have similer problem now he is fine.
    read his story here how he recovered

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