Depression is characterized by intense feelings of sadness, worthlessness, low motivation, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and anhedonia which is a loss of interest in activities that once gave a person pleasure. In more severe cases, individuals with depression can also struggle with suicidal thoughts, recurrent thoughts of death and self-harm behaviors.
Depression can lead to isolation from loved ones, difficulty getting up and dressed each day, overeating and weight gain, crying spells for seemingly no reason and heightened irritability. Depression can also manifest in physiological ways with individuals complaining of frequent headaches and stomachaches.
While a major depressive disorder can present as a standalone diagnosis, there are other variations that can also look similar. These include postpartum depression, which occurs after the birth of a child, seasonal depression which changes with the weather, and bipolar depression, which can occur after a manic episode. Not everyone who is depressed experiences these symptoms.
Signature characteristics of depression include negative thought patterns and feelings of self-blame which leads to individuals feeling as though others aren’t interested in them, are negatively judging them, or are “better off without them.”
Depression can arise from a variety of different factors including trauma, major life transitions, experiencing loss, or purely organic origins, including family history. For adolescents and young adults with depression, it can impact almost every aspect of life including social interaction, school and family connection.
Depression is categorized into mild, moderate, and severe, depending on how many symptoms a client may experience and how much it impairs their day-to-day functioning. Depression can be situational or chronic and recurrent. The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms may vary depending on the individual as well as on their age and gender.