Everyone experiences periods of sadness from time to time. Life isn’t entirely composed of highs, and you’ll reach those inevitable low points now and then. However, if you find your sadness persists, gets worse, or progresses into hopelessness, you may have a more serious condition on your hands.
Depression is a common but often crippling condition that affects millions of people every year. Of adults aged 18 and older (8.3%of the population), 21 million experienced a major depressive episode in 2021.1 Of those individuals, 14.5 million had depression that caused severe impairment.
What causes depression, and what are some of the signs and symptoms? How do you know whether you’re just feeling sad or it’s something more? And when is it time to seek help for your depression?
What Causes Depression?
Depression is an umbrella term that includes a few different types of depressive disorders. These include:
- Major depressive disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Perinatal depression (postpartum depression)
- Psychotic depression
The causes of depression aren’t always clear and typically depend on the type of depressive disorder you have. For example, the shift in seasons is the primary cause of seasonal affective disorder, and childbirth can cause women to experience perinatal depression. However, the causes of major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder aren’t as straightforward.
Current research suggests that a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors play a role in whether you develop depression.2 You’re more likely to experience a depressive episode at some point if one or both of your parents had the condition at any point. Additionally, major life events or changes, such as losing a loved one or experiencing serious injury or illness, can trigger depression.
What Are Some Symptoms of Depression?
Symptoms of depression are far more than feeling sad for a few hours or days. They can feel all-consuming at times and may affect your ability to function at work or school or manage daily activities. You may have depression if you experience some of the following symptoms:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or anxiety
- Pessimism or hopelessness
- Restlessness, frustration, or irritability
- Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless
- Losing interest in activities or hobbies you enjoy
- Lower energy levels
- Having trouble concentrating, focusing, or remembering things
- Having trouble making decisions
- Experiencing sleeping problems (insomnia, disrupted sleeping patterns, sleeping too much)
- Changes in appetite
- Suddenly gaining or losing significant amounts of weight
- Aches or pains with no clear cause
- Self-harming behaviors
- Thinking about death or suicide
- Threatening or making a suicide attempt
Not everyone experiences all symptoms of depression, but it’s crucial to recognize them when they arise. Symptoms may worsen the longer depression is left untreated. Knowing the signs and symptoms of depression can help you recognize when you might need to seek treatment.
Finding Help for a Depressive Disorder
If you experience some of the symptoms of depression every day for at least two weeks, you may want to seek help. Mental health treatment programs offer a range of services that provide as little or as much support as you may need.
Facilities like Lifeskills South Florida understand that one-size-fits-all treatment programs aren’t the most effective approach. You deserve an individualized approach to care that encompasses your unique needs and experiences, and we’re here to provide that.
Call us at 866-321-9430 to speak with an admissions specialist or connect with us through our contact form. We’ll help you understand your options, decide which services are right for you, and get you started on the track back to feeling like yourself again.
- Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Depression.