Warning Signs & Types of Depression
Depression is not just feeling blue from time to time. Instead, the warning signs of depression are characterized by overwhelming daily feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness and emptiness. A person who experiences depression often cannot see a future for themselves — they may feel like the world is closing in around them.
Depression Warning Signs
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every warning sign — some people will experience a few signs, while others, many. Severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time. These signs are usually pretty clear to those around the person suffering — the person doesn’t seem at all like their normal self. The changes in the person’s mood are (usually) evident to friends and family.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
In order for depression to be diagnosed, the person must experience these symptoms every day, for at least 2 weeks.
Related: Specific Diagnostic Symptoms of Depression
Types of Depression
Depressive disorders come in many different types, and while there are many similarities to each type of depression, each has its own unique set of symptoms.
The most commonly diagnosed form of depression is Major Depressive Disorder, a condition whose primary symptom is an overwhelming depressed mood for more than two weeks. The depressed mood affects all facets of the person’s life, including work, home life, relationships and friendships. A person with this kind of depression often finds it difficult to do much of anything or get motivated, so even going to seek treatment for this condition can be challenging.
Another type of depression is called dysthymia. Dysthymia is similar to Major Depressive Disorder, but the symptoms occur over a much longer period of time – more than 2 years. This is considered a chronic form of depression (or chronic depression), and treatment can be challenging as an individual with dysthymia has often already tried all manner of treatment over the course of many, many years. Individuals diagnosed with this condition can also suffer from occasional bouts of Major Depressive Disorder. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association renamed this disorder Persistent Depressive Disorder.
A third type of depression is referred to as Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood. This condition is diagnosed when a person is adjusting to some new facet or change in their lives that has caused a great deal of stress. This disorder can even be diagnosed when a person is experiencing a good event in their life – such as a new marriage or a baby being born. Because the individual usually just needs a little additional support in their lives during this stressful time, treatment is time-limited and simple.