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Am I Depressed?

By Patti Richards

It’s a bright sunny morning, but you can’t see anything but clouds. You try to get out of bed, but your legs feel heavy and taking even one step is exhausting. You hear your family laughing, but the distance between your room and the kitchen seems like a thousand miles. If you could explain to your loved ones what hurts and how you are feeling, maybe they would understand. But that’s the problem — You don’t feel anything.

If this story sounds like a day in your life or the life of a loved one, depression may be the culprit.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can be as unique as those who are diagnosed with the disorder. Each person experiences depression within the context of their own lives, bodies, thoughts and behavior patterns. This means that while depression comes with sets of signs and symptoms, a person does not have to experience all of them to be diagnosed. And in some cases, a person struggling with this form of mental illness may experience unique symptoms not on the most generalized lists.

Some of the most common symptoms of depression include the following:

  • Feeling sad, empty or anxious. These feelings continue over time without getting better.
  • Feeling helpless, worthless and guilty, and focusing on losses or failures.
  • Feeling hopeless and as if nothing good will ever happen again. Hopelessness is often accompanied by thoughts of suicide.
  • Increased irritability without reason.
  • Less interest in favorite hobbies, games or activities that you normally enjoy, including eating or having sex.
  • Lack of energy, extreme tiredness and the inability to think clearly or quickly. Even daily activities seem impossible.
  • Lack of concentration and focus, making it difficult to make even the simplest decisions.
  • Changes in sleep patterns — Sleeping more than usual or not sleeping at all.
  • Changes in appetite or eating patterns — Little to no appetite or overeating for comfort.
  • Unexplained aches or pains, including headaches, cramps, upset stomach or other digestive problems.1

Depression symptoms can also surface as a result of other medical conditions or as a side effect of medications. If you are experiencing the symptoms of depression and are being treated for another medical condition, it’s important to tell your doctor right away.

Types of Depression

Depression is divided into four major categories based on type, duration and severity of symptoms. These are:

  • Major depression – Characterized by a dark, all-consuming mood and a loss of interest in pleasurable activities and daily life.
  • Persistent depressive disorder – A low mood that has lasted for a period of two years. The symptoms may not be as intense as those associated with with major depression.
  • Bipolar disorder – Formerly known as manic-depressive disease, those with this type of depressive illness have periods of depression followed by manic periods of high energy or activity.
  • Seasonal affective disorder – This type of depression appears when the days get shorter during winter months. Mood changes could be due to a lack of light and a change in the body’s natural rhythm.2

Women and Depression

Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression over the course of a lifetime. This is mostly due to hormonal changes and a genetic predisposition for depressive disorders.3 Along with the four major types of depression, there are two types of depressive illness unique to women. These are:

  • Perinatal depression – Also known as postpartum depression, this type of depression occurs during pregnancy and in the 12-month period after giving birth. Symptoms can include major and minor depressive episodes. One in seven women who give birth will struggle with this type of depression.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – Symptoms begin after ovulation and last until menstruation starts. PMDD is a more severe type of premenstrual syndrome.

Both of these severe forms of depression can be devastating to women and their families. Fortunately, with appropriate treatment, including medication, counseling and psychotherapy, women who struggle can lead normal, happy lives.

Men and Depression

Although they are less likely to struggle with depression than women, there are warning signs unique to men who struggle with the disorder. The Mayo Clinic explains that men may have stereotypical symptoms such as feeling down and lethargic, but they may have other symptoms not typically associated with depression.4 Examples of these include:

  • Escapist behavior, such as spending a lot of time at work or on sports
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
  • Irritability or inappropriate anger
  • Risky behavior, such as reckless driving

Because these behaviors could also signal other mental health issues, professional help is needed for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Talking with a medical or mental health professional can help unravel symptoms, find their true causes and develop a treatment plan that leads to both mental and physical health.

Finding Treatment for Depression

If you or a loved one struggles with depression, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline to learn more about how medical conditions, medications and drugs or alcohol may be impacting your or a loved one’s mental health. We are here 24 hours a day to connect you to the professionals and integrated treatment programs that offer a fresh, healthy and happy start to recovery.


1What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Depression?WebMD, WebMD, 8 Apr. 2016.

2Six common depression types.” Harvard Health Publishing, Jan. 2017.

3 Burton, Neel. “The 7 Reasons Why Depression is More Common in Women.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 17 May 2012.

4Male depression: Understanding the issues.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 May 2016.

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