Symptoms, Signs & Effects of Depression

If you or your loved one are struggling with depression, Vermilion is here to help. Learning about depression can help you or your loved one manage its symptoms.

Understanding Depression

Learn about depression

Depressive disorders can affect people of all ages, at all different stages of life. While sadness is something that everyone experiences, people who have a depressive disorder experience such profound, prolonged, and persistent feelings of sadness and despair that it leads to dysfunction in many areas of their lives. Individuals suffering from depression will find it difficult to make it through the day without experiencing overwhelming feelings of distress. These individuals are likely to isolate themselves, have difficulty sleeping, experience a change in their eating patterns, no longer care about their appearance, and lack the ability to experience pleasure. While the effects of depression can be devastating, with proper treatment, individuals can find relief from their symptoms and resume living a happy, productive life.


Depression statistics

As one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders, depression is believed to affect one in ten people in the United States. Yet, it is said that only 52% of those suffering from a depressive disorder actively seek treatment. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that major depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44. The CDC has also reported that 15 of every 100 adults over the age of 65 are diagnosed with a depressive disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for depression

There is not any one identified cause that leads to the onset of a depressive disorder. Rather, it is believed by professionals in the field that a combination of genetic, physical, and environmental factors play a role in the development of depression. These factors may include:

Genetic: There is believed to be a strong genetic link in the development of depression because the illness is known to run in families. Research has shown that 40% of depressive disorder diagnoses have a hereditary tie.

Physical: Through neuroimaging studies, it has been shown that people who have depression have structural differences in the areas of the brain that regulate sleep, appetite, and behavior. Additionally, imbalances in neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that regulate emotions, are also said to play a role in the development of depressive symptoms.

Environmental: It is believed by many that experiencing certain life events, such as significant traumas or the loss of a loved one, can lead to the development of depression. Spending a great deal of time in turbulent or stressful work, school, or home environments can also impact one’s susceptibility to developing depression.

Risk Factors:

  • Being female (reports state that women are 70% more likely than men are to develop a depressive disorder throughout their lifetimes)
  • Family history of depression
  • Family history of other mental illnesses
  • Personal history of mental illness
  • Presence of significant health problems
  • Chronic stress
  • Unemployment
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Death of a loved one
  • Suffering from trauma, especially during childhood

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression

The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe and debilitating and can look very different from person to person. Additionally, symptoms will vary in their pattern, severity, and frequency. While some individuals are more prone to either mania or depression, others alternate equally between the two types of episodes. Some have rather frequent mood disruptions, while others experience only a few over their lifetime. Some common signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder may include:

Behavioral symptoms:

Depressive episode:

  • Misses multiple days of work
  • Participates in self-harming behaviors
  • Spends a great deal of time in bed
  • Isolates oneself from family and friends
  • Makes suicide attempts

Manic episode:

  • Participates in high-risk behaviors
  • Hyper sexuality
  • Makes grandiose statements or behaves in a grandiose manner
  • Speaks rapidly
  • Acts impulsively
  • Acts out aggressively

Physical symptoms:

Depressive episode:

  •  Noticeable weight gain or weight loss
  • Increased need for sleep
  • – crapes, cuts, bruises, or other marks indicative of self-harming behaviors

Manic episode:

  • Decreased need for sleep, sometimes going days without sleeping
  • Lack of appetite
  • Extreme fluctuations in body temperature

Cognitive symptoms:

Depressive episode:

  • Inability to think clearly
  •  Inability to make decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Having visual or auditory hallucinations

Manic episode:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Poor concentration
  • Flight of ideas
  • Having visual or auditory hallucinations

Psychosocial symptoms:

Depressive episode:

  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Excessive feelings of worry and anxiety
  • Suicidal ideation

Manic episode:

  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Excessive irritability or agitation
  • Feeling as though one is invincible and that nothing can harm him or her
  • Prolonged periods of emotional excitability


Effects of depression

The effects of untreated depressive disorders can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Not only will they impact the individual suffering from the illness, but they can affect those in his or her life as well. Examples of various effects that can result from untreated depression can include:

  • Drug and/or alcohol use and addiction
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Self-injury
  • Social isolation
  • Familial conflict
  • Divorce / loss of significant interpersonal relationships
  • Academic or occupational failure
  • Unemployment
  • Decline in physical health
  • Attempts at committing suicide

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and co-occurring disorders

Depressive disorders have known to exist alongside other mental illnesses. The disorders most commonly cited as co-occurring with depression include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Substance use disorders