Depression: Do you know the signs?

Depression is a common mood disorder that can cause severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities such as sleeping, eating, or working. As many as 15 million adults in the US experienced a depressive episode in 2014, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Studies have shown that some people with disabilities or chronic conditions may be at higher risk for depression, compared to those without disabilities. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of depression, so you or your loved one can get the help and support needed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of depression for adults may include feelings of sadness, or irritability; a loss of interest in normal activities; lack of energy or feelings of worthlessness or guilt, among others. People may have multiple episodes of depression in a year, where some, all, or a variation of the symptoms occur most of the day and nearly every day. These symptoms may be severe enough to cause problems that are noticeable in everyday activities, including work, school, social activities, and/or relationships.

Children and teens may also experience depression. Although children and teens may experience signs and symptoms of depression that are similar to adults, there can be some differences. In younger children, these signs and symptoms may include clinginess, refusal to go to school, and weight loss. In teenagers, signs and symptoms may also include poor performance or attendance in school, using drugs and alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, and avoidance of social interactions.

Older adults may experience depression, even though it is not a normal part of growing older and it may go undiagnosed and untreated in older adults who may find it difficult to ask for help. The signs and symptoms of depression may be less obvious in older adults and they also may be different than those experienced by children, teens, and younger adults. They may include personality changes or memory difficulties, physical aches and/or pain, and suicidal thinking or feelings. Some signs and symptoms of depression in older adults, such as fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems aches, or loss of interest in sex may seem like side effects from medication or a medical condition, when they are not.

To help raise awareness of depression, we would like to share resources from the NIDILRR community and beyond:

If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of depression, please make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you are feeling uncertain about seeking treatment, please speak with a loved one, a friend, a faith leader, a health care professional, or someone you trust. If you are thinking about hurting yourself or committing suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. You can also call a suicide hotline number, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US at 1-800/273-TALK (1-800/273-8255). If you are a veteran thinking about hurting yourself or committing suicide, you can call the above number and then press “1” to reach the Veteran’s Crisis Line. If a friend or loved one is in danger of attempting suicide or has made an attempt, please call 911 or your local emergency number immediately and make sure that someone stays with them until help arrives.