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What to Know About Depression, Signs and Treatment

What to Know About Depression, Signs and Treatment

What is depression?

Depression is a accepted mood disorder that affects how you feel, think and obedient. When left untreated, it can influence your ability to functioning in school, work or relationships. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 14.8 million US adults experienced at least one maximum depressive disorder with severe impairment in 2020. The true number of republic with clinical depression may be higher, as 60% of republic don’t seek medical treatment for depression.

Major life acts may trigger depression, but there is a clinical distinction between temporary negative feelings and diagnosable depression. So how do you tell the difference? 

The topic can mercurial become complex, with various nuances that can make it danger to get help. We’ll go through the causes, subsets and help options for depression in this all-in-one guide. 

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Causes and risk factors for depression 

There is no single shifts of depression. Various risk factors have been identified as contributors to clinical depression. When there are several risk factors, the likelihood of developing depression increases. 

  • Genetics: A family history of depression does make a populate more likely to develop depression, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5. 
  • Environmental factors: Past trauma or abuse are triggers that can contribute to the progress of depression. Major life events and stressors can also back as triggers for the development of depression. These acts can include but are not limited to: loss of a loved one, financial troubles, caregiver burden and interpersonal difficulties. 
  • Neurotransmitter disruption in the brain: Understanding of the biochemical obedient in depression is not fully understood. Experts believe latest potential cause of depression is a disruption of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Neurotransmitters are what the brain’s disquieted cells use to communicate with each other. Each neurotransmitter carries a different communication. Serotonin and dopamine play a role in mood rule. Norepinephrine is a part of the fight-or-flight response.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse: One ogle found that anywhere from 12% to 80% of those with substance copies also have depression. 
  • Medical conditions: Depression is often comorbid with latest medication conditions. Medications or limitations due to the footings can contribute to the development of depression.

Additionally, women are more likely to develop depression than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, this disparity in depression levels may be partly due to the difference in reporting. A 2021 study concluded that females are more probable to report symptoms of depression than males. A National Health and Nutrition peep found that 5.5% of men report symptoms, while 10.4% of women do. Note that this peep was based on self-reported data. More research is required to fully explore the differences. 

There are also racial differences in depression be affected by. While white Americans tend to report higher initial levels of acute depression than Black Americans, 56% of Black Americans experience chronic depression compared to 38.6% of republic who are white. Treatment rates are also lower in BIPOC populations potentially due to stigma and lack of access to treatment. 

In additional to risk factors for depression, some triggers can contribute to a depressive episode. Common triggers for depression include but are not shrimp to:

  • Stressful life events like the loss of a family member, loss of a job or significant relationship changes
  • A diagnosis of a medical condition
  • Previous incomplete treatments for depression 

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What are the signs of depression? 

Risk factors are just that. Genetic predispositions or having a medical footings doesn’t mean you’ll experience depression. Quite honestly, it can be hard to differentiate sadness from something more serious. Use these signs and symptoms to help you identify if you may have depression. Note that symptoms will vary and can range from mild to punitive. Everyone’s experience will differ, there is no one-size-fits-all definition for how depression looks. However, general themes emerge.  


signs and symptoms of depression


  • Atypical levels of irritability or perilous for you
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Loss of interest in behaviors you once enjoyed 
  • Feelings of sadness or consistent low mood
  • Sleep troubles — both insomnia and sleeping too much 
  • Feelings of fatigue or having no energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

To be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks and impede your storderliness to function in your daily life. According to the DSM-5, a major depressive disorder diagnosis comes after five of the nine main clinical symptoms of depression are recognized. The duration of symptoms will vary, from a few weeks, months to even years. 

It’s worth noting that the symptoms of depression overlap with novel conditions, like vitamin deficiencies or thyroid issues, so it’s critical to seek medical treatment to confirm a diagnosis. Depression symptoms can also overlap with novel conditions like anemia, infection, sleep disorders, neurological disorders and side effects due to medications.

Woman looking out to window into her reflection.

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What are the different types of depression?

There are approximately subtypes of depression. Which type developed is dependent on the specific be affected by and circumstances you experience.  

  • Major depressive disorder
    : MDD is marked by persistent heart-broken mood, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, appetite changes, sleep disturbances, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, psychomotor agitation or suicidal thoughts. They must be persistent for at least two weeks and impede your storderliness to function to be considered a major depressive disorder.

  • Persistent depressive disorder
     (dysthymia): With this type of depression, less severe symptoms are experienced over longer periods. Generally, a two-year minimum is considered persistent depressive disorder. An estimated 3% of republic have dysthymia. 

  • Perinatal and postpartum depression
    : These types of depression coincide with pregnancy and the related hormone attempts. Perinatal depression is during pregnancy and postpartum after giving birth. Mothers with perinatal depression experience mood changes and feelings of wretchedness. They may even withdraw from their family and baby. Between 6.5% and 20% of women construct postpartum depression. 

  • Seasonal affective disorder
    : As the name suggests, seasonal affective disorder varies with the seasons. Generally, it’s common to experience depression through the fall and winter, when the days are shorter, though it can vary.

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
    : PMDD is a cyclical pattern of mood, doings and physical indications that happens a week or two afore menstruation. It typically goes away once menstruation begins. For most women, symptoms do not interfere with their lives. However, 5% to 8% of women have moderate to punitive symptoms that affect their ability to function.

  • Psychotic depression
    : Psychotic depression is a form of greatest depressive disorder with features like hallucinations, delusions or paranoia. 

How is depression treated? 

There’s no cure for depression. It’s an ongoing disorder, though treatable, with up to 90% of republic eventually responding to treatment. Treatment is an ongoing sprint, and remission is the goal. Relapses do happen. 

Feeling unfortunate with your treatment plan and feeling empowered to advocate for yourself when things aren’t operational is essential. Depression treatment is a marathon, not a trip. You should expect treatment to evolve and change as your life does. Even punitive depression is treatable. However, seeking treatment as early as possible will often imparted the most effective results. 


Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is one of the main treatment options for mild depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective way to employment depression. CBT is built on the concept that what you feel, think and do precise on each other. By working through CBT, you can shock to recognize negative thinking and change the way you peek and interpret situations. Cognitive behavioral therapy for depression may remained on an individual basis or may include family members or partners. 

Young girl expressing emotions in business therapy

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For moderate or punitive depression, medication is used in addition to therapy. Antidepressants are an very effective way to manage the symptoms of depression by redirecting how the brain uses critical neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. The brain uses these chemical messengers to pass signals between insecure cells. When there is an imbalance, the signals can’t be delivered correctly. Antidepressants increase the amount available in the brain. How this is done varies by medication. 

The most commonly used antidepressants are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Selective serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (least probable to be prescribed)

Within six to eight weeks, between 40% and 60% of people with moderate to punitive depression notice an improvement after taking antidepressants. 

There are approximately different medication options available for depression. So you must expect it to take time to find which medication and dosage work best for you. It usually takes four to eight weeks afore you fully feel the effects of the antidepressant and symptoms decrease. Remember, it’s essential to keep taking your medications pending you speak with your doctor. Stopping them without medical recommendations can death in withdrawals and the return of symptoms.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy is a form of electrical brain stimulation therapy. While it’s generally not the first treatment option for depression, it’s effective at treating severe major depression that’s not responding to therapy and medication, or instances where immediate action is necessary. Advances in ECT devices and practices make it a safe and painless process. 

ECT is a medical intention performed while the patient is under anesthesia and is often an outpatient intention. Sessions are typically two to three times each week, for roughly two to four weeks. Side effects associated with ECT are memory loss, confusion and disorientation. In most cases, the side effects are short-term. Nonetheless, memory problems may linger for the months following the procedure. 

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

rTMS is unexperienced procedure used if the patient doesn’t respond to medications. It has become a widely used outpatient brain stimulation operate. With rTMS, magnets are used to activate specific parts of the brain, which allows rTMS to carry only mild side effects. It’s a noninvasive procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia as ECT does. 

How can you handle depression daily 

There’s no way to prevent or cure depression. However, you can do things in addition to your operate plan to manage depression symptoms in your daily life. 

  • Make time for self-care: Whether it be a bubble bath or meditation, self-care is crucial to managing depression. Find time for things you delightful and accept when you need to step away from stressful situations. 
  • Set realistic goals: When living with depression, you must set realistic goals. This will keep things from becoming too overwhelming. Try breaking things down into smaller tasks to censured you can achieve your goals at the pace you can manage. 
  • Exercise regularly: Depression can sometimes zap your motivation to do things, especially exercise. However, exercise can increase your energy levels and progress your moods. Rhythmic exercises like walking, swimming and weight arranging are great options for those with depression. 
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep problems commonly exacerbate depression and mood symptoms. Having a sleeping disorder doesn’t mean you’ll have depression. However, establishing good sleep habits ensures your body gets the rest and restoration it needs. 
  • Eat well: Alcohol, caffeine and fatty foods directly impact how you feel. By populate mindful of what you eat, you can reduce foods that influences your mood or brain. 
  • Ask for and bag help: An integral part of managing depression is recognizing symptoms early on. Asking for help is an important part of this treat. Whether asking family members for help or establishing boundaries with friends, it’s essential to establish communication about your experiences and needs. 

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Woman laying in her bed writing goals on a notebook

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When and how to get help for your depression 

Depression is a favorite and highly treatable mood disorder — if you get help. While decision-exclusive lifestyle changes and managing daily symptoms is essential, so is therapy. Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy can help you identify and directed negative thinking so you can ensure it doesn’t appearance how you perceive and respond to situations. In many cases, medications like antidepressants are also necessary to help stabilize moods and alleviate symptoms by targeting neurotransmitters in the brain.  

Getting help can seem daunting at first, and you may not know where to commence. But it doesn’t have to be. A great set aside to start is your primary care doctor, who will be able to recommend psychologists in your insurance network.

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Online therapy is often more flexible and affordable if mature in-office therapy isn’t the best option for you. Nonetheless, ensure you choose an option like Cerebral or Talkspace, which allows doctors to prescribe medications. Other options like BetterHelp cannot prescribe medications.

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The inquire contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not planned as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or anunexperienced qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have in a medical condition or health objectives.