Depression Signs & Symptoms

Sunrise Recovery Ranch provides depression treatment rooted in a science-based, research-supported clinical model to ensure a healthier, more satisfying life.

Understanding Depression

Learn about depression

Everyone experiences sadness at various times throughout their lives, but some people experience it with such intensity that it hinders their ability to live full, productive lives. In such cases, a depressive disorder may be present. The two most common types of depressive disorders that impact adults are discussed in the following:

Major depressive disorder occurs when individuals suffer from a significantly depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure that impacts their ability to function appropriately on a daily basis. When this disorder is present, individuals will suffer from symptoms most of the day, nearly every, for at least a period of two weeks. Symptoms of this disorder can cause sufferers to experience monumental difficulty with functioning in various areas of their lives, including at work, at home, and in social situations.

Persistent depressive disorder is diagnosed when an individual experiences a chronically depressed mood for at least two years. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), this chronically depressed mood is evidenced by the presence of symptoms that occur for most of the day and on more days than they are absent. The DSM-5 also notes that persistent depressive disorder may be preceded by major depressive disorder and, if symptoms of major depressive disorder continue for two years, then an individual should be diagnosed with both major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.

Unfortunately, many people who suffer from major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder also struggle with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. When these types of co-occurring concerns are present, the depressive symptoms can become worse or the abuse of substances can become more problematic. For this reason, receiving comprehensive treatment that addresses both the depressive symptoms and the addiction is necessary in order to help individuals achieve true recovery.


Depression statistics

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), 7% of the United States population suffers from major depressive disorder. The APA also notes that age can impact the prevalence this disorder, with individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 suffering from the disorder with a prevalence that is threefold higher than that of individuals who are aged 60 and older. The APA also reports that the 12-month prevalence of persistent depressive disorder is estimated to affect 0.5% of the United States population.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for depression

The causes and risk factors for depressive disorders are described briefly in the following:

Genetic: According to the American Psychiatric Association, genetic factors can be largely influential in determining an individual’s susceptibility to experiencing the onset of a depressive disorder. Having a first-degree relative who suffers from a depressive disorder can increase a person’s risk for suffering from the same condition two- to fourfold.

Environmental: Growing up or spending a significant amount of time in an environment that is rife with negativity and adverse circumstances can impact an individual’s vulnerability to developing major depressive disorder. In regards to persistent depressive disorder, the strongest environmental indicator lies in parental loss or parental separation occurring during one’s childhood.

Risk Factors:

  • Personal history of mental illness, including anxiety disorders and conduct disorder
  • Family history of depressive disorders
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Experiencing stressful life events
  • Being female (The APA notes that major depressive disorder affects females in greater prominence than it does males.)
  • Suffering from chronic or disabling medical conditions

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of depression

The signs and symptoms of depressive disorders will vary in both type and severity from person to person. Whether an individual is suffering from major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder will also impact the symptoms that are displayed. The most common symptoms of depressive disorders are listed in the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • No longer participating in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Decline in occupational performance
  • Taking frequent absences from work
  • No longer taking care of daily responsibilities at home
  • Tearfulness
  • Social withdrawal and isolation

Physical symptoms:

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Psychomotor agitation

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Experiencing difficulty making decisions
  • Poor concentration
  • Recurrent thoughts about death and wanting to end one’s own life

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • No longer demonstrating an interest in things that were once considered pleasurable
  • Feeling empty
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of inexplicable or unwarranted guilt
  • Irritable mood


Effects of depression

Suffering from depression without receiving treatment can have a number of negative effects on an individual’s life. Examples of such effects can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Being unable to appropriately attend to self-care needs
  • Beginning to abuse or developing an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
  • Decrease in physical functioning
  • Decrease in social functioning
  • Decrease in occupational functioning
  • Job loss or demotion as a result of hindered occupational functioning
  • Decline in one’s overall physical health
  • Onset of self-harming behaviors
  • Suffering from chronic suicidal ideation
  • Making suicide attempts

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and co-occurring disorders

It is not uncommon for individuals who suffer from depressive disorders to turn to drugs and/or alcohol as a means of attempting to self-medicate their distressing symptoms. For this reason, substance use disorders frequently co-occur with both major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder. Individuals who suffer from depressive disorders are also susceptible to simultaneously suffering from other co-occurring mental disorders, such as those listed in the following:

  • Panic disorder
  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa

Thanks to Sunrise Recovery Ranch, my daughter was able to get the lasting recovery she deserved from her addiction and her co-occurring mental health disorder. I am super grateful!

– Michelle A.
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