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An Overview of Anxiety and Depression

Depression Symptoms

Depression can include any or all of these symptoms. At least five symptoms must occur over the same two-week period for a diagnosis of clinical depression to be made.

  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in life
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of motivation
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Irritability
  • Changes in eating behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Suicidal thoughts — if you feel this way, talk to someone trustworthy about it.

Suggestions To Help with Depression

  • Keep as active as possible, including structured exercise if you can manage it.
  • Don’t turn to alcohol, cigarettes or illegal drugs; these will add to the problem rather than reduce it.
  • Try to give yourself a lift — talk to a good friend, watch a film, book a massage — whatever works for you.
  • Investigate Internet support groups and discover what has worked for others.
  • Remember that you are suffering from an illness and need to take care of yourself.

What Causes Depression?

The causes are not fully understood, but genes or early life experiences may make some people more vulnerable. Life events which increase stress, or physical illness, may trigger an episode of depression. It’s sometimes not easily possible to identify a cause.

People with depression experience some changes in the way their brains work — their levels of stress chemicals are higher, and levels of ‘relaxing’ chemicals are lower.


Even though you may not feel like doing it, getting treatment is vital. You might have to spell it out to your doctor, because often they don’t recognize ‘hidden’ depression.

There are a range of therapies for depression which can be just as effective as medication. With accurate information, you can make the best choice for yourself.

Many types of therapy are suitable for treating depression. Through talking it over, it’s possible to recognize what triggers your depression symptoms. Some therapies will go back to your past to look at the origins of your depression, whereas others will concentrate on getting better in the present.

Antidepressants work by treating levels of brain chemicals. They can be very useful in stabilizing your emotions while you investigate the roots of the problem. Antidepressants do not work immediately; they generally take four to six weeks to have an effect. They will not change your personality and are not addictive. Side effects vary with the medication; talk to your doctor and read the package insert.

An Overview of Anxiety and Depression

Jane Collingwood

Jane Collingwood is a longtime regular contributing journalist to Psych Central, focusing on topics of mental health and dissecting recent research findings.

APA Reference
Collingwood, J. (2020). An Overview of Anxiety and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 30 Jul 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.