Early symptoms of depression

All persons feel differently, so not everyone experiences the same early symptoms of depression. This mood disorder causes people to constantly feel sad and uninterested. Depression is a serious condition that entails a lot more than just ‘having the blues,’ though. As a matter of fact, depression can have physical as well as emotional ramifications, and lead to a series of harmful lifestyle choices, including death by suicide. Everybody hurts, so to speak, especially when we lose someone, or are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of family and work. However, when negative feelings don’t go away over time is when you should realize that depression is not necessarily a temporary state and may require long-term medical care.

Common depression symptoms include:

·         Feeling sad, empty or unhappy all the time.

·         Outbursts of anger.

·         Irritation and frustration over small matters.

·         Insomnia.

·         Hypersomnia.

·         Eating too much.

·         Not eating enough.

·         Inability to find joy in once pleasurable activities such as sex.

·         Guilt.

·         Restlessness.

·         Hopelessness.

·         Worthlessness.

·         Fatigue.

·         Thinking, concentration, and decision-making problems.

·         Suicidal ideation.

Depression can affect people of all ages, including children and teens, and older adults too. In either group the symptoms may vary as well as overlap.


Depression in:



Older adults






Sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusal to go to school, underweight

Sadness, irritability, negativity, worthlessness, anger, poor school performance or attendance, sensitivity, drug and alcohol use, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, isolation

Memory problems, personality changes, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleep problems, loss of interest in sex not due to disease or medication, social isolation, suicidal ideation.


Depression in children and teens may be associated with anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, ADHD, and other mental conditions. Otherwise, the symptoms may be considered to be a normal part of growing up, especially as they usually coincide with puberty. However, if depression in children and teens is left untreated, it may persist, recur and continue well into adulthood. Similarly, depression signs may be viewed as a part of the natural aging process in older adults, even though that is not the case at all. People who have made it to a ripe old age are more likely to have lost many of the people they knew, and it may be difficult to distinguish grief from depression. Moreover, the elderly may take medications and experience medical conditions that contribute to the onset of depression. Depression is such a serious problem in old age that white males aged 85 and older have the highest suicide rate in the U.S. Speaking of which, it is interesting to note that though women in general attempt suicide more than men do, more men die by suicide in America.


Along with the early symptoms of depression there may be warning signs of suicide as well, such as the following:


·         Suddenly transitioning from very sad to seemingly happy.

·         Constantly talking or thinking about death.

·         Worsening depression symptoms.

·         Risky behavior that could lead to death.

·         Putting one’s earthly affairs in order.

·         Speaking of suicide, in particular as a solution to one’s problems.


More often than not these signs are a cry for help; a cry that should not go unheeded. If left to their own devices, depressed people may easily go from thinking and talking about it to actually killing themselves. Help for suicidal ideas may be given in the form of:


·         Reaching out to a friend or relative.

·         Contacting a religious figure from your community, if you’re into that sort of thing.

·         If you’re in the U.S., calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

·         Making an appointment with a doctor and/or mental health provider.

·         Call 911 –or if possible go to the nearest emergency room- if a suicide attempt or any form of self-harm seems imminent.


Keep in mind that these pieces of advice are applicable whether it’s someone you know or yourself who is having suicidal thoughts. In fact, there are several ways in which you can help others as well as yourself.












Seek treatment asap

Provide support, understanding, patience and encouragement

Remain active and exercise

Talk and listen carefully

Don’t abandon the activities that used to bring you joy

Be realistic but don’t dismiss feelings

Set realistic goals

Take comments about suicide seriously

Break up and prioritize large tasks into small ones

Help with making doctor’s appointments

Spend time with friends and relatives and accept their help

Offer invitations to activities; insist in case of refusal but don’t push

Don’t expect to ‘snap out’ of depression

Remind them that depression will lift with time and treatment

Delay major decisions till you feel better


Let positive thinking replace negative thoughts


Keep learning as much as you can about depression


It can be rather difficult to predict who may be at risk of depression, and consequently, there is no specific way to prevent it either. So much so in fact that even experts have a hard time establishing whether certain chronic maladies are a cause or a consequence of depression, for example:

·         Smoking.

·         Alcohol and substance abuse.

·         Sedentary lifestyle.

·         Poor sleeping habits.

Additionally, people should pay attention to other potential risk factors such as depression that started in childhood or adolescence, history of anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, pessimism and other personality traits, conditions like cancer, diabetes or heart disease, and a family history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, or suicide. As a far as prevention goes, one should work to reduce stress and increase resilience and self-esteem, reach out to loved ones in times of crisis, and more importantly, get help –whether it’s short or long-term treatment- as soon as you detect the early symptoms of depression.