It’s completely normal to feel low at times. Everyone goes through highs and lows in life, but when a person has depression, these lows might stay for a long time and make daily life difficult. However, there is more than one type of depression.
Most types of depression have several symptoms in common with major depression, although they may also have some symptoms that differ.
The symptoms of major depression are:
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, or excessive guilt
- Trouble with concentration
- Difficulty making decisions
- Recurring thoughts of suicide, death, a suicide plan, or attempt
- Noticeably restless or rundown
- Loss of enjoyment in things they used to enjoy
- Sadness or depressed mood
Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)
If a person feels depressed more days than not over a two year period for adults, they likely suffer from chronic depression. Children or teens may be diagnosed with chronic depression if they experience these symptoms for a year or more.
Although it may not sound like it, atypical depression is very common. Some of the symptoms of atypical depression include sleeping too much, gaining weight, increased appetite, increased sensitivity to rejection, feeling leaden or weighed down. They may also feel anxious.
A person who suffers from bipolar disorder will have severe mood swings between high elations, known as mania or a manic episode, and low moods referred to as depression or a depressive episode. A person with bipolar disorder will sometimes have psychotic symptoms as well.
Many women feel low right after the birth of a baby due to the rapid drop of hormones after birth, sometimes referred to as the baby blues. But whereas the baby blues will cease after a few days, lingering feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness, or a lack of enjoyment in life is more likely to be signs of postpartum depression. If you believe you or a loved one may suffer from postpartum depression talk to your primary care provider or your midwife.
Download The Depression Fact Sheet
Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD)
If you feel depressed at certain times during the year, and at the same time every year, you may have what we call seasonal depression. Many people experience seasonal depression during the darker winter months, but this condition can also happen in the summer half of the year.
When a severe depression includes psychosis, we call it a psychotic depression. Hallucinations, hearing voices, delusions, and being out of touch with reality are psychotic symptoms. One of the hallmarks of psychotic depression is that the hallucinations or delusions will be depressive, and focus on worthlessness and failure.
If you are getting treatment for depression but do not feel relief, feel like the side effects are unbearable, or just don’t feel like yourself, you need to talk to your doctor. Sometimes you need a different antidepressant, and sometimes you will be diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, which means that treating your depression will take a bit more effort. Treatment-depression can still be managed well, but you will need to work with your doctor to find a suitable treatment plan.
How Can Depression Affect Your Life?
Untreated depression may affect your life in different ways, like sleep problems, suicidal thoughts, it may lower sexual desire and performance. Severe depression might make your day to day life difficult. Thankfully, depression can be treated, and it’s important to talk to your doctor if you think you may be depressed.
Suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of depression. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to talk to a trained counselor. The helpline is free of charge and open 24/7.
What are the warning signs that someone is suicidal?
If someone is feeling suicidal, they may display some of the following symptoms:
- Dwell on the topic of death or dying
- Research ways to kill themselves
- Buy pills, a gun, or a knife
- Talk openly about wanting to die or to commit suicide
- Prepare for death, give away things they care about, update wills, write a suicide note
- Drink heavily or take drugs to numb the pain
- Act recklessly, like having risky sex or driving drunk
- Talk about being a burden, or about feeling unbearable pain or despair
- Sleep less or more than usual
- Feel depressed, sad, angry, or anxious
- Be irritable, aggressive, or moody
- Turn suddenly calm once they’ve made the decision to commit suicide
- Become withdrawn and isolated, having little interest in social events or activities
- Avoid close friends and family
What do you do if you suspect that someone is about to commit suicide?
- Call 911
- Remove any drugs or weapons
- Talk to them in a non-judgemental way, remember that most people who commit suicide do not want to die, they just want the pain to end
- Stay with them until help arrives, do not leave them alone
Depression is a serious mental illness, but when treated by a combination of medications and psychotherapy, people with depression can live happy and successful lives.