10 Common Signs and Symptoms of Depression—and When to Get Help

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 18.5% of adults in the United States experience mental illness every year. That's a significant portion of our population—one in five people—yet the stigma and misunderstanding that surround mental health remain. If you are feeling symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor to learn more about treatment options.

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We throw around the phrase "I'm depressed" to describe a stressful situation at work or the end of a relationship. But just like the word "crazy," for which the etymology has shifted over time, depression can often be mistaken for a way to characterize an emotion rather than a mental health issue. It trivializes those who suffer from the disorder, a real chemical imbalance that creates negative and difficult circumstances beyond our control. 

Because it all can seem convoluted, the definitions melting into each other, it's often challenging to know when to seek help. "Treatment should be sought for depression when the symptoms are interfering with the quality of your life," says therapist and mental health expert Scott Dehorty, LCSW-C. "Depression is treatable, and there is no reason to suffer in silence." 

To get a better understanding of the hallmark symptoms of depression, I reached out to two experts for their opinions and advice. Below, they detail 10 different, common warning signs to look out for. Keep reading for their thoughts.

Next Steps: 

"Any of these symptoms can occur with any of us at any given time, and that can be completely normal," notes Lindsay Henderson, Psy.D., a psychologist who treats patients virtually via the telehealth app LiveHealth Online. "But if you are experiencing more and more of these symptoms, or they are growing in severity, start paying a bit more attention to how you are feeling overall. If you notice that these symptoms are impacting your overall functioning, it may be time to seek professional help. The good news is that help can come in many forms and individuals have options for how they address their mental health."

We know that things like social activity, healthy eating, good sleep, and regular exercise all directly contribute to a healthier mood. If you notice yourself experiencing symptoms of depression, take a look at your daily routines and overall physical health to identify areas that can improve. "It can be beneficial to engage in therapy and talk with a mental health professional about what you are experiencing," says Henderson. "Not only can a therapist help assess and diagnose the experiences you may be having, but they can also offer tips and tools to better understand, manage, and cope with the many complex emotions you feel."

Here's the thing: We know the idea of finding a therapist and getting to appointments can be overwhelming. Online therapy can be a wonderful way to break down many of the barriers that can get in the way of accessing therapy, as the appointment can take place wherever you feel most comfortable. Talk to your doctor to make the best plan for you and seek out an appointment with a psychiatrist. Your doctor may talk with you about the pros and cons of taking medication, which can be particularly helpful with depression and anxiety, but not for everyone. It's best to talk first with a professional about your options before making any decisions.

To seek counseling, reach out to your personal doctor, the Crisis Text Line, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.