How Do You Know If You Are Depressed?

Published on October 14th, 2015

Updated on January 2nd, 2024

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We all have bad days or times we are down in the dumps, and we all feel sad sometimes. Even though bad days are normal, many people may be suffering from depression and not even know it.

You may be thinking, “If I don’t know I am depressed, why would I want to find out?” Depression can become more severe over time if it is not treated. While you may be experiencing mild symptoms of depression now, the chances of those symptoms worsening in the future are great.

Like any mental illness, depression is a serious disorder that warrants appropriate treatment. Seeking mental health support can provide you with information and treatment for recovery from depression.

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Mental health education is important. It allows people access to information about what warning signs to look out for when they are not feeling like themselves. So, how do you know if you are depressed or if you are just having a difficult time? Educating yourself on the symptoms of depression is the most straightforward approach.

Note: Depression affects everyone differently and there is a wide range of symptoms that can occur.

Symptoms of Depression

Changes in appetite.

You notice that you are eating a lot more than usual or that your appetite has decreased significantly.

Loss of interest in hobbies.

You are no longer participating in the hobbies and activities you previously enjoyed or these hobbies and activities do not provide pleasure and instead feel like a chore.

Changes in sexual desire.

Your interest in sex has changed dramatically, leaving you with little to no desire for intimacy with your partner.

Engaging in reckless behaviors.

Depression and the difficult emotions that come along with it may have you seeking new ways to manage those feelings. Participating in reckless behavior is often a way people attempt to cope with a depressed mood.

Example: Promiscuous sex, excessive gambling, or use of substances and alcohol.

Experiencing decreased energy.

Depression can cause you to feel tired and sluggish, even when engaging in minor tasks or things you enjoy.

Feelings of hopelessness or “emptiness”.

Feeling bleak, desperate, or experiencing numbness or lack of emotions.

Trouble concentrating.

If you are unable to focus, you may be experiencing a symptom of depression.

Note. Difficulty concentrating also happens with different mental health disorders. It may be depression if it is not better explained by another condition.

Changes in sleep.

Similar to changes in appetite, if you are suffering from depression you may notice changes in your sleep pattern. Sleep changes can indicate a potential struggle with depression. Such changes include difficulty sleeping or sleeping for long periods.

If after reading the above-listed symptoms you feel you may be depressed, your next question might be why? Although there is no one concrete cause for depression, there are many contributing factors. These factors play a part in why someone may develop depression at some point in their life.

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What Causes Depression?

Serious ailments.

Serious illnesses and ailments can significantly change the way you live your life. Changes range from impacting mobility and independence to changing how you view yourself. A certain amount of sorrow and sadness is expected in these cases. If you experience hopelessness, helplessness, anger, or suicidal thoughts, your illness might be triggering depression.

Genetics of Family History.

Depression can run in families. If you have a family member who struggles with depression, you are at an increased risk of experiencing depression as well.

Grief and Loss.

Experiencing grief when you have had a loss in your life is common and expected. No one grieves the same way, and there is no timeline. Grief can turn into depression. Look out for signs like isolating yourself, significant appetite changes, and thoughts of suicide.


Certain medications have side effects that increase the risk of depression.


Having a history of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) can put you at increased risk of developing depression.


When the weather changes, your mood can as well. If you notice significant changes, like increased fatigue, lethargy, and/or decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities, then weather-related depression could be the culprit. This is referred to as seasonal affective disorder.

Hormonal changes.

Depression can surface during times in your life when hormone levels are changing. Such situations include pregnancy, menopause, and thyroid complications.

Substance abuse.

Substance use and depression interact with each other. One can affect the other, and it is not uncommon for someone who is depressed to have a history of drug use. A person may also turn to drugs as a risky means to cope with a depressed mood. They may use drugs to cope with a depressed mood and upsetting feelings.

If you think you might be depressed, contact a mental health professional. Depression is treatable, and getting help can help intervene in what could otherwise turn into a debilitating disease.

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