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Understanding Depression: Common Symptoms and the Importance of Treatment

Understanding Depression: Common Symptoms and the Importance of Treatment

Although depression is an incredibly common mental health issue experienced by people of all ages, it is still widely misunderstood and surrounded by harmful stigma. Many people living with depression feel ashamed and suffer in silence, afraid to seek treatment. People who are depressed may be unfairly told to “get over it” and not taken seriously about their symptoms. However, depression is a very real condition that is highly treatable. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Caring for your mental wellness is just as important as your physical health. Just like screenings for other illnesses, depression screenings should be a routine part of health care for both children and adults. If a mental health professional determines that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, there are many types of treatment available, such as medication or counseling, to help you get better.

Common Symptoms of Depression

People with depression often experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sadness: While everyone gets the blues sometimes, people with depression experience a persistent sadness that disrupts their day-to-day life.
  • Hopelessness: One of the most common signs of depression is a sense of hopelessness about life. People with depression may feel helpless to change things they’re unhappy about or have ongoing feelings of guilt, self-loathing, or worthlessness.
  • Loss of interest: People who are depressed often avoid activities they once enjoyed, lose interest in hobbies, neglect personal relationships, or struggle with productivity at work.
  • Fatigue: Depression may cause excessive sleeping or difficulty waking up in the morning. Depression can also cause sleep disturbances and insomnia, which will only add to fatigue.
  • Anxiety: Many people with depression also suffer anxiety symptoms. Common signs of anxiety include intense fear or dread, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, shaking, and intrusive thoughts.
  • Extreme emotions: Emotions other than sadness can become overwhelming and uncontrollable as well. People with depression may suffer from angry outbursts and other intense, life-disrupting mood swings, which may put a strain on their relationships.
  • Changes in appetite: Depression can affect weight and appetite differently depending on the individual. They may eat more than usual and gain weight or have little appetite and lose weight. Any unintentional weight gain or loss could be an indicator of depression.
  • Irritability: Those who are depressed may get frustrated or annoyed with things more easily or become irrationally irritable about small inconveniences.
  • Physical symptoms: Headaches, digestive issues and stomachaches, and back pain are all among the physical ways depression can manifest.
  • Substance abuse or risky behavior: Depression can drive people to engage in self-medication through unhealthy methods, such as alcohol or drug abuse.

Depression in Children and Adolescents

Depression is becoming increasingly common among children and adolescents. However, it is often difficult to assess whether certain behaviors your child or adolescent is displaying require attention or not. If their behavior is growing worse and/or persists for more than several weeks, interferes with schoolwork or their ability to function, or is reckless or unsafe, it’s important to seek the help of a mental health professional.

Children and adolescents may benefit from a depression screening and treatment if they:

  • Often talk about fears, anxieties, or worries
  • Experience drastic changes in mood, behavior, or personality
  • Become less social or self-isolate
  • Talk about wanting to hurt others or themselves
  • Have frequent tantrums or are irritable more often than not
  • Have difficulty staying still, paying attention, or keeping quiet
  • Sleep excessively or too little
  • Have frequent nightmares or night terrors
  • Lose interest in playing or activities they once enjoyed
  • Have trouble at school or experience a sharp decline in grades
  • Refuse to go to school
  • Become less energetic or less communicative

The approach to providing mental health treatment for children and adolescents is similar to that of adults in many ways, but there are many stark differences as well. The ability for a treatment provider to understand these nuances is crucial to offering effective and compassionate care.

“We have to do things a little more delicately with children and adolescents than adults,” said Dr. Lara Addesso, Psychiatrist at LiveWell Counseling. “We have to establish rapport and build trust so they know we are here to help and not judge. It’s important to make sure they feel comfortable when communicating with them.”

The Importance of Mental Health Treatment for Depression

Depression can have a significant negative effect on your life, relationships, and health. If you believe you may be living with symptoms of depression, it’s important to be evaluated as soon as possible so that you can begin possibly lifesaving treatment.

Dr. Aijaz Nanjiani, Psychiatrist at LiveWell Counseling, understands how hopeless his patients with depression often feel. He recalled a time that a patient he was treating for depression stopped coming to therapy while he was hospitalized after an accident.

When the patient returned, Dr. Nanjiani asked him how recovering from the injury compared to recovering from depression. “He said when he was in pain in the hospital, he could see a light at the end of a tunnel,” said Dr. Nanjiani. “But with depression, it was like a deep, dark well with no light. Depression makes you feel like there is no hope, but in today’s world, with all the technology and treatment available, there is no reason to live in pain. Everyone should have access to therapy if they are depressed.”

LiveWell Counseling Can Help

Our LiveWell Counseling center’s team of expert mental health professionals provide compassionate, nonjudgmental care in a comforting and supportive setting. We offer variety of treatment options, including medication management, one-on-one counseling, and group therapy, with therapists who specialize in the treatment of both children and adults. To learn more about how we can help you, please call (201) 848-5800 or visit