Paula Kruger

Clinical Psychotherapist & Counsellor


10 common depression symptoms

Do you think you might be depressed? 

Feeling down from time to time happens in life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair really dig in, take hold and won’t go away, you may have Depression. 

Experiencing Depression is more than feeling a degree of sadness in response to life’s setbacks. It changes the ways in which you think and function every day. 

It can interfere with work, your studies, your eating habits, and sleep habits. The joy of life will seem elusive. Getting through every day can be an overwhelming task. 

While some people with depression describe it as having a feeling of impending doom, others may feel empty, and listless. Men, in particular, can feel angry, restless, and frustrated.

This is a common condition that may be diagnosed when a person has been feeling down and worried and has lost pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks.

However, should you experience Depression, left untreated it can develop into a serious health concern. Keep in mind that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of Depression—not the reality of your life situation.

Understanding What Depression Is

The symptoms of major Depression can include continuous low mood or sadness, having low self-esteem, feeling hopeless and helpless, being tearful, feeling guilt-ridden and being irritable and intolerant of others.

A person with Depression is unmotivated and uninterested, finds it difficult to make decisions, and takes no enjoyment from life. As a result, the individual may avoid the social events that they usually enjoy, so missing out on social interaction, which can cause a vicious circle which sees them spiraling further downwards.

There are different types of depression, or levels of severity. The most serious diagnosis being for clinical depressions, or major depressive disorder.

Depression can lead to confusion – it being difficult for a person to concentrate and remember things. In extreme cases the sense of hopelessness may lead to suicidal thoughts or even a suicide attempt.

Internal and external causes

A wide range of biological, social and environment factors can cause Depression. External causes predominantly encompass life events that can have a negative impact upon a person, and often act in combination with internal causes – those within an individual – to trigger Depression.

Internal Causes can include;

  • Personality traits, such as neuroticism and pessimism.
  • Childhood experiences, especially if the person felt out of control and helpless at the time.
  • Family history of your genes, take note if a parent or sibling has Depression.
  • Long term health problems such as heart, lung, or kidney disease, diabetes and asthma.

External Causes can involve;

  • Money or a lack of and the stress caused by financial concerns and worries about debt
  • Stress when a person cannot cope with the demands on them
  • Job or unemployment effects status and self-esteem perception of a positive future and the ability to engage socially
  • Bereavement  following the death of a family friend or pet
  • Alcohol and drugs due to the physiological, social, and economic consequences of addiction
  • Bullying among children and adults, whether physical or verbal, face to face or online
  • Loneliness as a result of health or disability, especially in the elderly
  • Pregnancy and birth and the overwhelming prospect of parenthood for new mothers
  • Relationship problems leading to Depression in the longer term

In summary many internal and external factors such as childhood experiences and life events, physical illness, or injury, can cause Depression. It can range from being rather mild, all the way to cripplingly severe, and is extremely common. 

Treatments and Managing Depression 

No matter how hopeless you feel, this is not the reality and you will feel better than how you may feel at the present moment. By acknowledging the cause of your Depression and recognizing the different symptoms you experience, you can begin the journey towards feeling better and overcoming the problem.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated over 350 million people suffer from Depression globally.

Treating depressed individuals is the job of a mental health professional. As well as individual therapy, support groups can also be very helpful.

10 common Symptoms of Depression:

Depression varies from person to person, still there are a number of common warning signs and symptoms. It is vital to recall that these symptoms can be normal lows you may experience. 

But the more symptoms you have together, and the severity and length of the symptom, then the more likely it is that you have Depression.

  1. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.  Nothing will get better no improvement is possible.
  2. Weight changes. A change of more than 5% of your body weight in a month may not seem much but spells trouble.
  3. Loss of interest in day to day activities.  Former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex does not seem as appealing. You’ve lost joy and experience apathy.
  4. Anger and irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. 
  5. Sleep changes or sleep disturbances You might wake in the early hours, or oversleep.
  6. Self-loathing dwelling on your worthlessness or guilt. You constantly criticize yourself for your faults and mistakes
  7. .Low Energy. Feeling slow, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavier than usual, and you tire quickly.
  8. Reckless behaviour. You engage in escapist behaviour such as substance abuse, gambling or reckless driving.
  9. Lack of Concentration. Trouble with focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  10. Unexplained aches and pains. Strange physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

How it is diagnosed?

Often individuals will come to my practice not knowing why they are feeling so sad and overwhelmed, not realising that they are possibly experiencing mental illness. Others may have experienced Depression and have decided to work on the underlying reasons of their Depression and wish to find out how they can work with me to make the necessary changes to feel better “now”.

A Gp Can make a diagnosis by asking the person questions about their particular symptoms. One objective is to find out how long the symptoms have been going on. The GP may also suggest blood tests to rule out any other illness that may cause the symptoms of Depression. In my practice I will suggest that you go to your GP to take bloods as a process of elimination. 

Subsequent treatment depends on the severity of your Depression. However, the main option is to undergo Psychotherapy. Antidepressants may be suggested to help the individual cope with everyday life – only if it is assessed as a necessity. In my Psychotherapy and counselling practice – I will devise a treatment program firstly that provides you with tools and skill set to cope with your feelings and thoughts (perhaps through CBT initially).

I will also work with you on a step by step structure to guide you to better learning to self-care and learn new and positive ways of being within the safety of a therapeutic relationship, where you will experience unconditional positive regard and empathy, and gently be challenged to create positive change to feel better.

Ultimately it is the goal of therapy to help you away from a place of ‘darkness’ – where you may be feeling stuck, and in significant pain, which in turn is adversely impacting in your day to day functioning (or inability to function well) to an experience of finding lightness and pleasure and fulfillment in your day to day experience, and create sometimes long overdue life-style changes to claim a happier life for yourself overall.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 13 11 14