Depression: Recognizing the Symptoms and Warning Signs


Depression can negatively affect your life, and it goes beyond short-term sadness. Recognizing its symptoms at the early stages can help you get the help you need before it escalates.

Everyone feels sad from time to time, and it’s normal. If you’ve lost a loved one, your job, went through a breakup, or are dealing with financial issues and feel sad, it’s because you are a human being, and that doesn’t always mean you are dealing with depression. Although you might describe your emotions as feeling depressed, it still doesn’t always mean you are depressed. Your sadness in response to difficult situations usually goes away once you solve the problem, or some time passes as time heals all the wounds. Still, unfortunately, even time cannot resolve depression without getting help.

What is Depression?

Depression is a medical condition, a mood disorder that can affect how you feel, think, and behave, and it can last for weeks, months, or even several years.

Depression is a primary cause of disability worldwide, and about 280 million people globally suffer from it, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Fortunately, you don’t have to live with depression as it is among the most treatable of the mental illnesses, and many patients are successful in their treatment. Then how come so many people still suffer from depression? Most probably because we fail to realize we are struggling with it, or sometimes because many of us are ashamed of being depressed, but there’s nothing to feel embarrassed about, and depression is never your fault.

There are many triggers of depression, and even genetics can play a role in its development. If you suspect you are dealing with depressions, the symptoms and warning signs below might help you better understand whether you are dealing with depression.

Symptoms of Depression

Although depression symptoms can vary from person to person, if most of the common ones below sound familiar to you, it might indicate you are dealing with depression.

This article isn’t meant to treat or diagnose your condition, rather than help you understand if you need to find help.

Because depression can impact different aspects of your life and affect how you feel, think, and behave, we have divided the symptoms into three categories – emotional, cognitive, and physical symptoms of depression.

Emotional Symptoms of Depression

1. Sadness and Numbness

Depression is a mood disorder, so no surprise it can affect your mood, and most commonly, it makes you feel sad or numb. Although even without depression, there might be times when you feel unhappy, sadness that comes with depression lasts longer – for days, weeks, months, or even years. Sometimes it goes away and comes back with no apparent reason. Sometimes it becomes a lack of care and inability to feel happiness. Although you might feel you’ve overcome the sadness, you may wake up the following morning feeling as if life is worthless, even without a trigger. Suddenly, the morning coffee you used to enjoy so much doesn’t taste the same way. You no longer find pleasure in your favorite activities, and even the party you are going to later, which you’ve been waiting for so long, no longer sounds exciting.

2. Feeling Hopeless

When you feel sad because of a bad grade, or a job loss, you know the feeling will go away once you get a better mark or find a better job. However, when you are depressed, you might feel as if nothing will ever make you happy again or change for the better. It may feel like there’s nothing worth living for, and no excitement will ever come your way. Regardless of how bad things might seem, remember there’s always hope for the better, and your feeling of hopelessness can go away once you find help and treat the condition.

3. Tearfulness

Sadness usually comes with tears, but the tearfulness that accompanies depression may feel uncontrollable. You might constantly feel like almost crying or start crying when there’s no apparent emotional trigger and at places besides your home. For example, you may begin crying suddenly during your class while doing an important presentation, or even at the party where you were supposed to have fun.

Cognitive Symptoms of Depression

1. Negative/Distorted Thinking

Negative or distorted thinking is a common symptom of depression that can worsen our mood and make us believe life is worthless or things are worse than they are. For example, when depressed, we think we are a failure, unlucky, less than others, etc. We also tend to overthink what others think of us and firmly believe we can read their mind – which is never true, and usually, we just assume they think of us what we think of ourselves, and when depressed, our self-image is distorted.

2. Indecisiveness

One of the most distressing symptoms of depression is indecisiveness. If you’ve never experienced depression, you might think we refer to big decisions like moving to a new house, changing jobs, getting a loan, etc. But we are talking about small things. Have you ever gone grocery shopping and found yourself unable to choose what to buy? When you are depressed, you can spend half an hour contemplating whether almond milk or coconut milk is better. You may also leave the store without purchasing anything, especially if you don’t have a shopping list. And it gets much worse when you are dealing with financial issues as it’ll compound the indecision. Because you most likely feel hopeless due to depression, you might think things will not get any better, so you will want to spend as little as possible. Unfortunately, once you enter the grocery store, you may feel too anxious to grab anything and leave empty-handed. Indecisiveness goes beyond grocery shopping, and it can negatively impact your relationships, work, studies, and every aspect of your life.


3. Suicidal Thoughts

When your emotional pain seems permanent and never-ending, it may lead to suicidal thoughts. If you’re currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t deal with them alone; the National Suicidal Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 free and confidential support for people in emotional distress.

Physical Symptoms of Depression

1. Lower Energy

Depression isn’t only an emotional pain you’ve to go through, and it can manifest in your body through the physical symptoms you experience when depressed.

Lower energy is one of the few common physical symptoms of depression, and it can interfere with your work and daily life. You might start feeling exhausted even after you’ve slept for what used to be long enough in the past and find it hard to concentrate on your tasks. What’s worse is that when you accomplish less due to fatigue and lower energy, it might aggravate your feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Remember, feeling fatigued due to depression is not your fault.

2. Sleep Issues

Sleeping problems are common amongst depressed individuals, and sometimes it might get challenging to fall and stay asleep, or on the contrary, depression may cause excessive sleeping. According to Sleep Foundation, the most common sleep issues during depression are insomnia, hypersomnia, and obstructive sleep apnea, with insomnia affecting about 75%of adults with depression. In addition, depression can cause nonrestorative sleep, which means you may not get the rest even after a whole night’s sleep.

3. Stomach Pain

Have you ever had an upset stomach before your public speech, exam, or before an exciting lifetime event? There’s a reason for that: the enteric nervous system (ECS) in the stomach. It is connected to our brain, and they constantly communicate when you feel anxious, sad, worried, etc.

Stomach Pain might arise and worsen with stress and depression. According to Harvard Medical School researchers, stomach discomfort can be a sign of poor mental health, and gastroenterological problems can affect mental conditions.

In Conclusion

Although depression can negatively affect your well-being and all aspects of your life, and its emotional, cognitive, and physical symptoms can feel overwhelming, it’s a treatable condition. Regardless of how you feel or your triggers, you don’t have to go through this alone. Finding help and support can improve your quality of life.

To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit movement helping people with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA encourages, informs, inspires, and invests directly into treatment and recovery. Click here to find help at TWLOHA.

If you’re here because your loved one is suffering from depression, you can contribute to improving others’ lives by donating to TWLOHA so that everyone can get the help they deserve.

At The Hemp Doctor we believe in supporting all aspects of our health, which is why we donate to organizations that help others.