Sadness, feeling down, and having a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities are familiar feelings for all of us. But if they persist and affect our lives substantially, the issue may be depression.
People experience depression in different ways. It may interfere with your daily work, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. It can also influence relationships and some chronic health conditions.
Signs and symptoms
Major depression can cause a variety of symptoms. Some affect your mood, and others affect your body. Symptoms may also be ongoing, or come and go.
Men may experience symptoms related to their:
- mood, such as anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness
- emotional well-being, such as feeling empty, sad, hopeless
- behavior, such as loss of interest, no longer finding pleasure in favorite activities, feeling tired easily, thoughts of suicide, drinking excessively, using drugs, engaging in high-risk activities
- sexual interest, such as reduced sexual desire, lack of sexual performance
- cognitive abilities, such as inability to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, delayed responses during conversations
- sleep patterns, such as insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, not sleeping through the night
- physical well-being, such as fatigue, pains, headache, digestive problems
Women may experience symptoms related to their:
- mood, such as irritability
- emotional well-being, such as feeling sad or empty, anxious or hopeless
- behavior, such as loss of interest in activities, withdrawing from social engagements, thoughts of suicide
- cognitive abilities, such as thinking or talking more slowly
- sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping through the night, waking early, sleeping too much
- physical well-being, such as decreased energy, greater fatigue, changes in appetite, weight changes, aches, pain, headaches, increased cramps
Children may experience symptoms related to their:
- mood, such as irritability, anger, mood swings, crying
- emotional well-being, such as feelings of incompetence (e.g. “I can’t do anything right”) or despair, crying, intense sadness
- behavior, such as getting into trouble at school or refusing to go to school, avoiding friends or siblings, thoughts of death or suicide
- cognitive abilities, such as difficulty concentrating, decline in school performance, changes in grades
- sleep patterns, such as difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- physical well-being, such as loss of energy, digestive problems, changes in appetite, weight loss or gain
There are several possible causes of depression. They can range from biological to circumstantial.
Common causes include:
- Family history. You’re at a higher risk for developing depression if you have a family history of depression or another mood disorder.
- Early childhood trauma. Some events affect the way your body reacts to fear and stressful situations.
- Brain structure. There’s a greater risk for depression if the frontal lobe of your brain is less active. However, scientists don’t know if this happens before or after the onset of depressive symptoms.
- Medical conditions. Certain conditions may put you at higher risk, such as chronic illness, insomnia, chronic pain, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Drug use. A history of drug or alcohol misuse can affect your risk.
Treatment for depression
Living with depression can be difficult, but treatment can help improve your quality of life. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible options.
You may successfully manage symptoms with one form of treatment, or you may find that a combination of treatments works best.
It’s common to combine medical treatments and lifestyle therapies. At Health Republic, we manage at all.