Depression Signs & Symptoms

Not everyone experiences depression the same way. Understanding the signs, symptoms and effects of depression is an important step toward recovery for your child.

Understanding Depression

Learning about Depression

Depression, a mental illness that involves episodic or ongoing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and/or helplessness, can be debilitating and take a devastating toll on an individual’s life should symptoms of this condition remain untreated. Young people who battle this illness often display behavioral concerns in addition to emotional disturbances, as well as a great deal of psychological pain and strife when depression is a factor in their lives. Functioning in several settings is known to be significantly impaired and, unfortunately, those who experience severe depression are known to develop thoughts of suicide if their mood continues to worsen.

Individuals who meet diagnostic criteria for depression have an increased risk for substance abuse and the development of additional mental health concerns. Additionally, there are a number of physiological health concerns that can emerge should a person grapple with depression for a long period of time. Luckily, there are options for care available that can help sufferers of this disorder recognize their symptoms, learn new tools for managing said symptoms, and realize a life that is free from the strife caused by the presence of depression.


Depression statistics

Known to affect children and adolescents alike, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses affecting people today. With the average age of onset being thirty-two, studies are finding that people of much younger ages also display symptoms of depression. Furthermore, it is estimated that one in eight young people battle depression at some point in life.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for Depression

Professionals in the field of mental health agree that a person’s genes and environment can contribute to the onset of a depressive disorder. The following explanations elaborate on these causes, and the subsequent list of risk factors can make a person more vulnerable to the development of this mental health condition:

Genetic: Similar to other mental health disorders, depression is an illness that can be inherited from one’s biological parents if there is a family history of this condition. In fact, research has found that those with a family history of depression account for 40% of individuals who are currently battling this debilitating disorder. Because of this finding, it can be concluded that a person’s genes play a role in the manifestation of depression symptoms.

Environmental: Depression is one such mental illness that can be influenced by an individual’s environment. Especially for those who have a genetic predisposition to this illness, the place wherein an individual spends most of his or her time and the circumstances an individual is in can trigger the onset of, or exacerbate symptoms of, depression. Individuals with a personal history of being victimized, abused, and/or neglected are likely to experience depression symptoms. Additionally, people who undergo abrupt changes in life or experience the sudden loss of a loved one can also begin to feel symptoms synonymous with depression.

Risk Factors:

  • Being female
  • Family history of depression or other mental health condition
  • Family or personal history of substance use and/or abuse
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Experiencing an abrupt and unexpected change in life
  • Exposure to abuse, trauma, or chronic stress
  • Experiencing unfavorable life events

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of Depression

There are several signs that family members and loved ones can observe if it is suspected that someone they care for is battling depression. For those suffering from depression, the symptoms these individuals may be experiencing can vary in severity and occur in a single episode or be recurrent and ongoing. The following behavioral, physical, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms are those that may infer an individual is battling depression:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Unwarranted emotional/behavioral outbursts
  • Declined participation in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Inability to manage responsibilities
  • Truancy from school

Physical symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Headaches or migraines

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Poor concentration
  • Impaired decision-making abilities
  • Difficulty forming and storing memories
  • Hindered ability to think clearly
  • Temperament changes

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Increased irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Intense sadness
  • Overly critical of oneself and one’s abilities
  • Guilty feelings
  • Feeling helpless


Effects of Depression

Untreated depression can frequently result in various effects that can be harmful to an individual’s wellbeing. Depending on the severity of a person’s depression and amount of time an individual has grappled with this mental illness, the consequences that can occur will vary. Below are examples of such effects and consequences that are possible if an individual does not receive care for his or her depression:

  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Increased conflict within interpersonal relationships
  • Development of physical health concerns
  • Poor impulse control
  • Development of another mental health condition
  • Development of a substance use disorder
  • Compromised immune system
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Obesity
  • Self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Suicide attempts

Co-Occurring Disorders

Depression and co-occurring disorders

Depression is a mental health condition that often exists alongside other mental illnesses. The following disorders are those that an individual can meet diagnostic criteria for at the same time as a depression:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Schizophrenia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa

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