Signs & Symptoms of Depression

Bayside Marin is a premier rehabilitation center dedicated to the treatment of depression in California. Bayside Marin blends evidence-based treatments with alternative, holistic modalities to comprehensively treat all aspects of our client’s life.

Understanding Depression

Learn about depression

Depression is a sadly common, yet highly treatable, mental health condition that manifests symptoms such as extreme sadness, profound hopelessness, anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure), and disrupted sleep patterns (both insomnia and hypersomnia). Individuals who struggle with depression may feel fatigued and lethargic, with little to no motivation or interest in issues, events, or activities that once held great interest. Suicidal ideations are not uncommon among depressed individuals as well.

It is important to differentiate between the periods of temporary sadness that virtually all people experience and the crushing weight of clinical depression. Depression is not “a case of the blues” or a sensation of being “down in the dumps.” It is a potentially debilitating mental health condition that can significantly impair a person’s ability to meet even the most basic responsibilities of everyday life.

Depression is actually a general category of disorders that include disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, substance/medication-induced depressive disorder, major depressive disorder, and persistent depressive disorder (which was previously referred to as dysthymia). Major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder are the most common of these diagnoses:

  • Major depressive disorder is characterized by severe symptoms that, while short-term in duration, can wreak significant havoc in person’s life. The extreme sadness, exhaustion, self-loathing, and other symptoms of major depressive disorder will likely only last for a matter of weeks, thought individuals may experience multiple recurrences of major depressive episodes.
  • Persistent depressive disorder involves more moderate symptoms that last considerably longer. Individuals who have persistent depressive disorder may have lingering sadness, decreased motivation, and similar symptoms for years. Throughout this time period, people with persistent depressive disorder may also experience major depressive episodes.

The good news about depression is that this condition responds well to treatment. Therapy and certain types of medication have proved to be successful solutions for helping depressed individuals overcome their conditions and resume healthier and happier lives. Though a large percentage of depressed individuals do not get the help that they need, the success rate among those who do receive professional depression treatment is significant.


Depression statistics

No demographic group is immune to the impact of depression. Children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens of all races, ethnic groups, socioeconomic levels, and other sociological strata are susceptible to the ravages of this disorder.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 7% of all adults in the United States (or 16 million men and women age 18 or above) have experienced at least one major depressive episode within the previous 12 months. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders throughout the world, with the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among U.S. citizens between the ages of 15 and 44.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for depression

There is no single cause for depression, though research has identified a number of biological, genetic, physical, psychological, and environmental factors that can lead to or exacerbate various forms of depression.

Genetic: A family history of depression is a significant risk factor for developing the disorder. Having a first-degree relative – meaning a parent or sibling – who has depression raises the likelihood that a person will also struggle with depression. For example, a study of twins indicated a likelihood of between 40% and 50% that depression can be inherited from one’s parent.

Environmental: People who live, work, or otherwise spend significant amounts of time in stressful or pressure-filled environments may be more likely to have a depressive episode, especially if their stress- and anger-management skills are less than optimal. Experiencing physical or psychological trauma can also be an environmental precursor to depression. Individuals who were abused as children, who were the victims of domestic violence, or who have been the subject of verbal or online harassment may be prone to developing depression, as are those who were in combat, survived serious accidents, or even witnessed a particularly horrific event. Loss and resultant grief can also trigger the onset of depression. Separation from parents, death of a spouse, or similar losses can be the root cause of depression.

Risk Factors:

  • Gender (women report symptoms of depression more than twice as often as men do)
  • Social isolation or low socioeconomic status
  • Medications (certain prescribed or over-the-counter drugs can increase the likelihood of developing depression)
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Family history of depression

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression

There is no one symptom or set of symptoms that are found in all sufferers of depression. For example, while some depressed individuals struggle with insomnia (inability to sleep), others experience hypersomnia (excessive sleeping). That said, people who are experiencing one or several of these symptoms should consult with a qualified expert to ensure that a proper diagnosis is made and an effective treatment plan is developed:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Unexplained absences from work
  • Out-of-character emotional outbursts
  • Discussing suicide or desire to disappear
  • Loss of interest in events, activities, and other topics that were once of great importance
  • Engagement in reckless and dangerous behaviors
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Withdrawal from friends, colleagues, and family members

Physical symptoms:

  • Changes in eating habits (either developing a voracious appetite or a loss of appetite)
  • Significant weight gain or weight loss (associated with changes in appetite)
  • Fatigue, lethargy, or sluggishness
  • Extreme boost in energy levels
  • Drastic change in sleep patterns (can be either insomnia or hypersomnia)
  • Generalized physical problems (stomachaches, joint pain, headaches)

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Sense of constantly being distracted
  • Persistent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble staying focused on tasks at hand
  • Difficulty solving problems or making decisions

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Temperament changes
  • Self-hatred and/or intense self-criticism
  • Desire to isolate oneself
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Increased anger
  • Unexplained feelings of guilt
  • Unexplainable feelings of panic, anxiety, and/or irritability


Effects of depression

Depression can have a significant negative impact on a person’s thoughts, decisions, emotions, and actions. The following are among the more common effects of depression:

  • Sense of hopelessness, guilt, and self-hatred
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Attempts to kill oneself
  • Risky, dangerous, or otherwise desperate behaviors
  • Profound fatigue/exhaustion
  • Lack of attention to personal hygiene
  • Lack of attention to responsibilities in school or at work
  • Strained or destroyed personal relationships
  • Abuse of alcohol and other drugs
  • Financial difficulties (related to job problems and/or failure to focus, pay bills, etc.)

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and co-occurring disorders

Many depressed people are also dealing with other issues that either led to or were influenced by the depression. For example, attempting to “self-medicate” the effects of depression with alcohol or other drugs can lead to addiction. The following are among the disorders that are commonly experienced by people who are also dealing with depression:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Learning disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

I came here for my depression, and the treatment I received was personalized for my specific situation - it was unlike anything I've ever experienced.

– Anonymous Client
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