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11 Common Symptoms of Depression

The signs and symptoms of depression can show themselves in a number of different ways, and often not in the way you expect. While the full list of symptoms of depression is extensive, there are certain criteria that mental health professionals use to diagnose depression and develop plans for depression treatment.

Living with just a few of these symptoms may indicate that you need professional help to overcome your depression. You can overcome these symptoms, and evidence-based depression treatment methods can help.

1. Feeling Sad, Hopeless, or Empty

It’s normal for people to feel sad from time to time or in response to certain events. But when people feel hopeless about the future, experience crying spells on a frequent and recurring basis, or simply feel empty inside without it resolving quickly on its own, it may be a sign of a depressive disorder.

The difference between a normal feeling of sadness and a symptom of depression is primarily based on time. Most people feel better in a short period, whereas people with depression can feel intense sadness for weeks, months, or years without improvement.

2. Sleep Difficulties

Depression and sleep have been thoroughly interlinked in dozens of research studies. Living with depression can cause a number of different sleep challenges, including:

  • Having trouble falling asleep
  • Oversleeping
  • Sleeping enough but not feeling rested
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as going to bed later

When these sleep challenges become the norm, it can quickly lead to a host of other negative side effects. Sleep is an important component of both physical and mental health, and getting poor-quality sleep can affect your mood, energy, cognitive skills, and much more.

3. Low Energy

Another common symptom of depression is constantly feeling as though you don’t have enough energy to complete your everyday tasks. Washing the dishes or doing the laundry can begin to feel like a monumental effort. You may not feel you have the capacity to exercise or to go and visit your friends.

For many people who have lived with depression for months or years, deciding where to spend the limited energy they have becomes a constant priority. If you need to shower and go to work, that might tap all your energy reserves for the day, so cleaning up the house or making dinner becomes out of the question.

4. Inability to Concentrate

Living with depression can severely impact your ability to focus on your tasks, concentrate on important work, and dedicate your mental energy where you want it to go.

This inability to concentrate often leads people experiencing depression to confuse their symptoms with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder when in reality, a mood disorder is to blame.

5. Low Motivation

Due to the way depression affects the brain, many people experience significant drops in motivation when they develop a depressive disorder. This can manifest not only in a person’s professional life but in their personal life as well.

Many people think of motivation in terms of achievement; you may be motivated to seek out a promotion, increase your savings, or achieve a physical goal. But motivation affects nearly every area of your life, and people living with depression can lose the motivation for everyday tasks just as much as they lose motivation for achievement.

For example, a certain amount of motivation is required to go to the grocery store. Motivation is required to make dinner. Sometimes, you need motivation just to get out of bed in the morning. Living with depression makes all of these tasks more difficult, as the motivation gets sapped from you without your control.

6. Suicidal Thoughts

Thinking about death, considering ending your life, and planning a suicide attempt are all severe symptoms of a depressive disorder. Death by suicide is a tragic and preventable consequence of depression, as most people will be able to overcome these thoughts and symptoms with evidence-based depression treatment.

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, don’t give up hope. You can feel better. A suicide prevention hotline is available 24 hours a day by calling 116 123.

7. Unintended Weight Changes

Depression can lead to sudden and unexpected weight changes in either direction. Many people living with depression lose the motivation to eat or cook, leading to rapid weight loss that can severely affect their physical health.

In contrast, many other people will turn to food as a coping mechanism to deal with their symptoms, which can lead to sudden and unintended weight gain.

8. Anger or Irritability

Depression can leave people feeling constantly on edge. The stress of living with depressive symptoms every day can cause you to lash out at your loved ones over minor events, leave you feeling constantly frustrated or irritable throughout the day, or make you angry at people for things that wouldn’t have bothered you otherwise.

Living with depression can feel like a weight, and without finding some form of relief, people will vent their discontent as anger or frustration.

9. Loss of Interest in Pleasurable Activities

One of the most commonly seen symptoms of depression is a loss of interest in the things that used to be important to you. If you played and enjoyed football in the past, you can find yourself suddenly no longer interested in the sport. If you were a movie lover, you may find yourself skipping the theatre more often.

Even sex begins to lose its pleasure for many people living with depression. These effects can compound to make your depression seem even worse, as you cannot find pleasure or relief from the activities that you’ve enjoyed in the past.

10. Physical Symptoms

There are several physical manifestations of depression as well. Some of the most common include:

  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Chronic fatigue

Often, these symptoms are completely unexplained by external effects. It appears the pain simply arises as a result of depression, leading to people feeling constantly uncomfortable or in pain as a result of their mental health challenges.

11. Fixating on the Past

Guilt, shame, or remorse are common experiences for people living with a depressive disorder. People may run the events of the past over and over again in their heads and drive themselves deeper and deeper into a depressive state as a result.

Looking to the past isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be used as a tool to make sure you do better in the future. But if you think about the past frequently, only to simply feel worse about your previous behaviour, it’s likely a sign of depression.

Overcoming the Symptoms of Depression

Breaking free from the symptoms of depression and regaining control over your life is no simple task, but it is possible. Dozens of evidence-based depression treatments offer a wealth of interventions, medications, and behavioural techniques to help people start living better lives in recovery.

Individual Therapy and Medication Management

Working with a therapist and taking prescription drugs for depression are the time-tested approach to treating depression. With multiple different styles of therapy available for you to choose from and a number of different antidepressant medications, these two treatment interventions can help many people achieve total remission from their depressive disorder.

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS)

Deep TMS is a new form of depression intervention that sends powerful electromagnetic impulses into regions of the brain associated with depression. Multiple research studies have shown that this can have a dramatic effect on depression symptoms in just a few sessions, even for people who have tried conventional depression treatment before and failed.

Deep TMS is generally well tolerated, extremely safe, and produces rapid results, making it one of the top-tier choices for depression treatment.

Ketamine-Assisted Therapy

Ketamine-assisted therapy combines individual therapy with an administration of the dissociative drug ketamine. Ketamine has been used in humans for years as an anaesthetic. In lower doses, it can help people break through walls in talk therapy that would otherwise take months or years of treatment to achieve.

When you begin ketamine-assisted therapy, your clinical team will walk you through the entire procedure, help you understand the drug effects you may experience, and will be there throughout your entire experience. You’ll talk with a therapist during the entirety of the drug’s effects and hopefully unravel some of the underlying causes of depression.

Ketamine-assisted treatment can produce drastic results in just a single session, and these effects can last for years.

Start Depression Treatment Today

Whatever treatment you choose, you can expect lasting results that improve your mental health and overall quality of life. You didn’t choose to have depression, but you can choose to take the steps towards recovery. While not everyone will achieve total remission, most people will see a dramatic improvement in symptoms and functioning when enrolling in evidence-based treatment.

To hear more about APN London’s depression treatment options, reach out to our team via the live chat function on our website or by filling out our confidential online contact form.


  • Efficacy and Safety of Deep Transcranial … – Wiley Online Library, Accessed 23 Dec. 2023.