Signs and Symptoms of Depression

While everyone feels down from time to time, clinical depression can be a serious mental health problem. Recognising the signs and symptoms of depression is not only the first step to help-seeking, but to working out what type of depression is causing them.

Most people aren't aware that there are different types of depression, and that they vary in terms of features, causes and treatments they will respond to.

This blog is about the signs and symptoms of depression, which, at MindSkiller, we refer to as "features".

While the symptoms and signs of depression can vary between people, there are some common features. That's how Major Depressive Disorder has been classified. Its common features include low mood, low energy, lack of motivation and interest, negative thoughts, social withdrawal, insomnia and physical distress. You might feel slowed down and unable to think, or full of nervous energy and unable to stop ruminating about negative past experiences.

MindSkiller's Dr Egg has listed the three most common types of depression and some of their signs and symptoms below.

Reactive Depression

The features of Reactive Depressions are a result of inability to cope with overwhelming situations such as bullying, grief, medical illness, work or study burnout, and natural disasters. They include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of pleasure and interest
  • Loss of motivation and hope
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of concentration
  • Insomnia and oversleeping
  • Thoughts of guilt, death or suicide

Mixed Anxiety-Depression

Mixed Anxiety-Depression starts with anxiety due to social or interpersonal stress, which can lead to a cycle of depression and high anxiety. Features include:

  • The features of Major Depressive Disorder
  • Anxiety features, such as being:
    • Dazed and disconnected
    • Restless and full of nervous energy
    • Obsessive and perfectionistic
    • Indecisive and scatty

 If the original cause for high anxiety remains unaddressed, the anxiety-depression loop continues resulting in symptoms of physical distress, including:

  • Somatic or physiological signs of high anxiety
  • Nervousness, heart palpitations, chest discomfort or shortness of breath
  • Nausea - loss of appetite, abdominal fullness, soreness or dry retching
  • Neurological dysfunction - "pins and needles", visual disturbance, motion sickness, seizure-like movements, or some loss of nervous system function that’s baffling any clinicians you've seen
  • Physical signs of depression - heart pain, irritable bowel, dizziness, fuzziness and headaches
  • Pain - muscle tension, clenching, or constant pain from an injury that should have healed by now
  • Fatigue - tiredness, weakness, lethargy or poor concentration.

Melancholic Depression

Melancholic Depression commonly occurs due to biological factors, such as genes, physical conditions, and even the effect of some medications and substances. Features include:

  • "Tangible" bodily sensations such as mental and physical 'slowing' or 'agitation'
  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Feeling sad and tearful about nothing specific
  • An absence of any identifiable external triggers, or, where there are stressors, the symptom severity is out of proportion to the level of threat
  • Symptoms persisting, even when any existing stressors have gone, which means the condition may well have become chronic
  • Recurrence when medical treatments are withdrawn

If you think you or someone you know might have depression, it's important to book in for a mental health check-up with your GP who can refer you to a professional for help if you need it.

In the meantime, have a look at MindSkiller’s eLearning program to find out more about Dr Egg, and the causes, self-help coping strategies and treatments for depression.

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