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  • Writer's pictureDena Lampert

Depression Explained: Signs, Symptoms, and Tips

Depression is a common mood disorder that is characterized by feelings of deep, often unexplained, sadness and worthlessness. Depending on the intensity and nature of the symptoms, depression can vary from mild and moderate to severe, clinical depression.

In this post, we’ll discuss the most common symptoms of depression, along with tips to manage symptoms. We’ll also cover the subject of suicidal ideation – warning signs that someone close to you might be struggling, and emergency contact information to get help.

Symptoms and signs of depression

Depression has both psychological and physical symptoms that can interfere with an individual’s thoughts, behavior, and everyday activities.

There are multiple subtypes of depression, and it often shares symptoms – or even co-exists – with other disorders. Due to this, it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis from a therapist or psychiatrist so you can receive the correct treatment.

If the following symptoms don’t recede after two weeks despite your best efforts, they may be a sign of depression:

  • Constant feeling of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness

  • Loss of motivation and interest in formerly pleasurable activitie

  • Guilt and self-blame

  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

  • Reduced energy and fatigue

  • Unexplained aches, e.g. migraines

  • Difficulty falling asleep, disturbed sleep or oversleeping

  • Increase or decrease in appetite

  • Suicidal thoughts

Depression in adolescents vs. adults

Depression symptoms are the same for adults and adolescents, except for one major difference. While depression in adults usually manifests as sadness, depression in adolescents often looks like irritation and oversensitivity. Adolescents with depression can exhibit unusually rebellious behavior, respond strongly to criticism, and have emotional outbursts.

Adolescents also show symptoms that are specific to their lifestyle, like skipping classes, performing poorly at school, and getting into confrontations. They are also more likely than adults to seek comfort in drugs or alcohol, which is often accompanied by a change in their friendship group.

But perhaps the biggest difference when it comes to adult vs. adolescent depression is that the latter is often mistaken for typical adolescent behavior. If you notice that your child has been exhibiting these symptoms for a while now or seems particularly withdrawn, think about having a conversation with them and consulting a therapist.

How to ease depression symptoms

Due to low energy and lack of motivation, simple everyday tasks like shopping for groceries or doing laundry can amount to a challenge for a person struggling with depression.

When trying to ease depression symptoms, the real struggle lies in fighting the instinct to give in to the exhaustion and gloom. However, even if you can’t see it right now, every little thing that you do today to stay active can go a long way to improving your mood and the quality of your life in the long run.

You probably can’t put all of these changes in place all at once. So start small, but it’s important that you start. Let’s see how.

  • Break bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, and overeating

  • Try to get adequate sleep, ideally maintaining a regular bedtime and wake-up time.

  • Follow a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding excessive amounts of caffeine, processed food, and refined carbs

  • Stay active every day. Do household chores, go to the store, exercise. Exercise is a powerful anti-depressant that not only cures mild depression but also prevents you from relapsing. So is the sunlight – take a walk whenever you get the chance!

  • Don’t isolate yourself. Meet up with friends and family. Join group classes to exercising rather than going alone?

  • Open up to people you trust and share your feelings

  • Don’t give up things you used to enjoy or, better yet, pick up a new hobby

  • See a therapist – they’ll help you work on finding practical strategies to tackle how you’re feeling

Suicidal ideation as a symptom of depression

Suicidal ideation, thoughts about suicide, is a severe symptom of depression. It is important that suicidal ideation is addressed before it escalates, and thoughts turn into actions.

Signs that a person may be having suicidal thoughts:

  • Withdrawal from all social interaction

  • Major mood swings, including being overly energetic and optimistic one day, then completely unmotivated the next

  • Reckless and dangerous behaviors like drug abuse, fast or drunk driving

  • Inexplicably start giving away belongings or settling affairs (like closing bank accounts)

  • Saying goodbye as if they won’t see you again

  • Talking about or idealizing death

  • Openly saying that they want to end their lives

Any expression of suicidality should be taken seriously and urgently. If you suspect that a person close to you might act on their suicidal thoughts, or if you find yourself having such thoughts and a plan of action, you should contact one of the numbers below:

  • Long Island Crisis Center (24-hour hotline): 516-679-1111

  • Mindful Urgent Care is located in West Hempstead and will provide immediate evaluations for suicidality: 516-505-7200

  • Zucker Hillside Hospital also has a walk in Behavioral Crisis Center for adults over the age of 18. 718-470-8300

  • Call 911 for emergencies

In the vast majority of cases, depression can be successfully treated, so don’t let it get the best of you. Seek the support of your loved ones and a professional, and the dark days will soon be behind you.


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