Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of depression is an important step toward getting help for yourself or your loved one. Haverhill Pavilion Behavioral Health Hospital in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is a source of accurate information, reliable guidance, and comprehensive solutions for adults and older adults who have been struggling with depression.
Learn about depression
Depression can refer to a variety of disorders that are characterized by diminished capacity for joy, lack of energy, low motivation, and similar symptoms. Clinical professionals refer to the various forms of depression with the collective term “depressive disorders.”
Two of the most common depressive disorders are major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.
- Major depressive disorder: A person who develops major depressive disorder will experience severe signs and symptoms. The symptoms of major depressive disorder will be present most of the day, every day or nearly every day, for at least two weeks. The signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder will cause significant distress, to the point that the individual will struggle with impaired functioning in one or more important areas of life.
- Persistent depressive disorder: A person who has persistent depressive disorder will deal with signs and symptoms that are similar to, but not always as severe as, the symptoms of major depressive disorder. However, the symptoms of persistent depressive disorder will last much longer. To be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder, a person must have been dealing with symptoms for at least two years. During this time, a person may also have some symptoms that are listed in the criteria for major depressive disorder.
The signs and symptoms of all forms of depression can have a devastating effect on a person’s well-being. However, when a person receives effective professional care, they can learn to manage the symptoms of depression and achieve improved quality of life.
Common signs and symptoms of depression
People who have depression can experience a wide range of signs and symptoms. Factors such as the type of depressive disorder a person develops and whether they also struggle with co-occurring disorders can influence the nature and severity of symptoms. In general, the following are among the more common signs and symptoms of depression:
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Not taking part in significant activities
- Frequently missing school or work
- Neglecting appearance, grooming, or personal hygiene
- Failing to meet personal or professional responsibilities
- Often talking about death or dying
- Giving away items of great value or personal significance
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Lack of appetite or overeating, with resultant weight loss or gain
- Persistent fatigue, exhaustion, or lack of energy
- Recurring unexplained physical pain, such as headaches or stomachaches
- Sexual dysfunction
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Diminished capacity for making decisions
- Low motivation
- Poor self-esteem
- Mood swings
- Outbursts of anger
- Pervasive sadness
- Suicidal ideation
Possible short-term effects of depression
When a person first begins to experience the signs and symptoms of depression, they may also develop a variety of short-term effects. Referring to these as short-term effects does not imply that they are temporary or superficial. Instead, the short-term effects of depression are the ones that most commonly occur early in a person’s struggles with depressive disorders.
The following are common possible short-term effects of depression:
- Family discord
- Strained relationships with friends, colleagues, and peers
- Frequent absenteeism from school or work
- Diminished performance in school or at work
- Substance abuse
- Low self-confidence
- Suicidal thoughts
The onset, progression, severity, and impact of the short-term effects of depression can vary considerably from person to person. However, anyone who struggles with any short-term effects of depression may be in danger and should consult with a professional. Getting proper care for the short-term effects of depression can improve your well-being and reduce your risk for future harm.
Potential long-term effects of depression
Continuing to struggle with a depressive disorder without seeking professional care can increase your risk for several long-term effects. As with the short-term effects listed in the previous section, the long-term effects of depression can vary considerably from person to person.
The following are among the many potential long-term effects of depression:
- Ruined interpersonal relationships
- Academic failure
- Job loss and chronic unemployment
- Financial problems
- Suicidal behaviors
It is extremely important to realize that both the short- and long-term effects of depression can have a profound negative impact on a person’s life. It is also essential to understand that proper professional care can help you overcome these effects. When you get the right type and level of help, you can achieve a much healthier and more satisfying future.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who have depression
Many people who experience the signs, symptoms, and effects of depression also struggle with other disorders. Clinical professionals refer to these additional challenges as co-occurring disorders. One of the many reasons to seek professional care for depression is that many people don’t realize that they’re dealing with co-occurring disorders until they consult an expert.
If you’ve been struggling with depression, you may be at risk for the following co-occurring disorders:
- Anxiety disorders
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Borderline personality disorder
- Substance use disorders (this is the clinical term for addiction)
- Eating disorders
Some people develop the disorders listed above before they begin to struggle with the signs, symptoms, and effects of depression. Others experience depression first, followed by the onset of a co-occurring disorder. Still others live with depression without ever developing a co-occurring disorder.
In all cases, it is important to complete a thorough assessment and receive care from a provider who can identify and address all the disorders that have been impacting your life.