Home > Family & Friends > How to Notice The Signs of Depression

How to Notice The Signs of Depression

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 31 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
Depression Illness Condition Elderly

The signs of depression can mimic those of other medical conditions and may also go unnoticed or ignored leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment. The effects of untreated depression can be devastating and when depression signs are not addressed, a person's symptoms can escalate, leading to suicide.

What Are the Key Depression Signs?

There is a huge range of symptoms that can be noticed in a person suffering from depression but two key ones that are used to diagnose this mental health condition are:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in normal activities

A depressed mood usually involves feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness and guilt. If a person is crying a great deal, especially when this isn't preceded by the 'normal' grief from bereavement, for example, there is a possibility that depression is present. Loss of interest also occurs in activities that were once normal and perhaps a source of pleasure. The low mood combined with a loss of interest is usually a sign of depression when they have been occurring for two or more weeks.


If you are sleeping a great deal or having difficulty falling or staying asleep, this can be one sign of depression. Some people find they awaken early and can't get back to sleep or awaken during the night frequently.


You may be experiencing an increase or decrease in appetite, especially in relation to stressful thinking or events. Weight gain or loss can occur and this may also be a sign of depression.


People who are depressed often have changes in their thought patterns and concentration. You may feel that your thinking is 'fuzzy' or clouded and that you have difficulty focusing, remembering things or making any kinds of decisions.


Another sign of depression is irritability, where you may find that you are agitated and annoyed easily. You may even wonder where these feelings come from and may struggle to pinpoint any trigger for your annoyance. Other signs include restlessness, anger and a general mood of aggravation.


Fatigue and exhaustion are signs of depression. You may feel that it's difficult just to get out of bed each morning. Lack of energy may be common as well as a constant state of tiredness and weariness. Some people describe the sensation as being in 'slow motion.' A person's voice may even take on a lacklustre tone. Mental fatigue is also common, with the feeling of being 'drained' or overwhelmed.

Poor Self-Esteem

Many people have various realistic issues around how they view themselves, but people who are depressed tend to have a clouded negative self-image. Rather than seeing faults and attributes, they see only faults. They may suffer from guilt and may experience paranoia that others see only as their negative traits.

Reduced Interest in Sex

People who have normally experienced a healthy sex drive prior to depression may find they have a sudden decrease in their drive and interest to have sex. Loss of sexual interest is a common sign of depression and can also increase feelings of anxiety and stress.

Suicidal Thoughts

A dangerous sign of depression is when a person begins to contemplate suicide. When self-esteem and self-image are poor, a person may feel hopeless about the future and may contemplate suicide. Signs of suicidal thinking are talking frequently about death and withdrawing from friends and family. A person may also quit their job and begin to 'tie up loose ends.'

Signs In Different Population Groups

Elderly, adolescents and children often show signs of depression that aren't common to most adults. The behavioural symptoms may be exhibited differently or even hidden by other conditions. Elderly often have additional age-related health conditions that may mimic the signs of depression. Children may act out in school, obtain poor marks and show social difficulties in getting along with other children.

The signs of depression may be quite obvious or they can be subtle; in fact, a depressed person may feel extreme guilt and can try to hide the signs of depression behind a false mask of happiness. If you find that you or a loved one has been experiencing several of the signs of depression for more than a couple of weeks, it's best to see a doctor and receive a medical diagnosis. There are many treatment options currently available and they can successfully treat depression. By learning about the signs of depression, you can better identify if you or a loved one needs medical assistance. Treatment is available and the first step is to identify the signs of depression so that you can look forward to a healthy and happy future.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
@OvercomeDepression thank you for the website, I'll check it out.
Crimson - 31-Jul-15 @ 10:14 PM
@Crimson. Firstly well done for acknowledging that maybe something is not quite right. This means you will be able to try and fix it. Is there someone you can talk to about this? A trusted teacher at school maybe? (We know it's the summer holidays at the moment). There are some useful resources on the internet specifically for people in your age group such as Young Minds . You could also try calling one of the many helplines such as Family Lives on 0808 800 2222
OvercomeDepression - 28-Jul-15 @ 1:07 PM
My name is crimson, 12, and I'm not to sure if I'm coping with depression or not. I don't feel absolutely worthless and I'm happy sometimes but it's never really happy. Sometimes I talk to myself when alone and I've been worrying a lot about my future and what's to come with year 8. I Sometimes think about suicide but I'm scared of what comes after, but I don't cry about anything like I did when I was sorta depressed last summer. I've also developed my own world in which I have created my own friends and joined in people from my favourite books/ tv shows. It's got to the point that I don't wanna leave this place because of my made up friends. I feel watched all the time with is another reason I think about suivide, as it would end my paranoia. I'm not sure if this is real depression or if I'm just weird but I've been getting really annoyed and angry at the simplest of things and I'm worried.
Crimson - 26-Jul-15 @ 11:47 PM
I have been suffering from depression for over a year. It finally come to a head when I suffered a breakdown. I described the feeling as that of a container that is full of liquid so much that just the viscosity is stopping the liquid over flowing. One more drop would cause the liquid to over flow everywhere. The container is my mental state and the liquid are my problems. If I speak to anyone or go out and I get one more problem I can not cope and I will "over flow". Being ex military I have always been taught to bottle everything up and just get on with it, so the stigma of this made it nearly impossible to discuss. However, I eventually spoke with my GP yesterday and confronted it. He prescribed citalopram which I am about to start taking.
actanonverba - 12-Feb-14 @ 9:43 AM
My name is sophia, im 13, my best friend for 6 years ditched me a year ago ever since it happened I havn't really been the same, every time I look in the mirror I see a useles piece of rubish whowill never be able do anything in life, I never let anyone see my real emotions, but I just can't handle it anymore, i've been broken, i've snapped I need help, all I think about now is ways to kill my self, at times i've tried and nearly succeeded, I feel pain every day it's getting harder and harder to get up in the mornings, what should I do? Im getting really scared, please help.
Soph - 23-May-13 @ 8:37 PM
I have been diagnosed recently that I have depression and I think it's getting worse as time goes by. When I went to the doctor, I was told I need to wait for 10 weeks to get councilling. My husband took me to a meditation sessions but didn't help. As time goes I think I am a danger to myself. I hurt myself a lot because I think I deserve it. I bang my head on the wall, slap myself and hit my head. I am starting to scare my husband but I think he got so used to it he just turn the other direction. I just feel so ugly, so inadequate. I can't do anything right. There are times when I am so close to finally ending it all but I guess my faith and thought about my family still over rules it. As time goes I get closer and closer to doing it. I just want the feeling to stop. The feeling is like somebody died. It is an unexplainable sadness. I don't know how to get councilling quickly. Like I said, as time goes the temptation of ending it all comes closer and closer. If not for my family and my God, I don't think I'd he here now.
Black Veil - 19-Mar-12 @ 11:52 PM
i have been told multiple times by my gp that i have depression and they have suggested a councilor and to take up sports ect. it helps for a while but then everything just gets too much i hate going through days wanting to end my life and i'm fed up of feeling so worthless that there is no point wasting food on myself :/ Im not sure what i can do, my partner doesnt understand and i think im pushing him away he says im always snapping at him. But its because i feel like most things he says is him judging me :( i dont feel like anyone could understand because even i dont :/ i dont even know how to find the light at the end of the tunnel:/
Niki - 27-Feb-12 @ 12:01 PM
Hi there I have been diagnosed as been severly depressed from my doc. My doc is very understanding and i am so glad she treat me like she did. However i am medication now and i feel as though i am getting worse. And i am feeling more confused about things now so not sure if the meds are working. what i am trying to say in my cunfuddled way is, go to your gp ,it is not as bad as you think and if your doc does not listen then find another doc in your practice or another local one.They will be a doc out there that will give you the respect that you need right now. I will be going back to see if i can change my medication. Good luck peeps and believe in yourself that you have an illness and it is not your imagination,and most of all do not be ashamed with what you are going through.
Em - 23-Nov-11 @ 4:25 PM
I have not had the courage to see a physician about my feelings of depression yet- i'm so worried she'll just fob me off. I don't really know why I'm so low all the time, and have been for years, but my family is being affected now, my relationship seems doomed and nothing makes me feel hopeful anymore. If I could curl into a ball I would. On the outside my life is great, so why do I feel like this? I feel childish and so very ashamed of myself.
willowmum - 31-Oct-11 @ 2:37 PM
Hi, I think Im depressed due to health problems which have all come and been diagnosed at once. I have polycystic Ovary Syndrome and this in itself causes weepiness and mood swings which are not the same as PMS. I also have Spasmodic Dysphonia which is a Vocal condition where I cannot speak so communication is really difficult and even though I am not alone, i feel very isolated and even lonely. I have just been for some test results at the doctors this morning, they think I am diabetic and the test i had should have been conclusive one way or another but all they could tell me is that they will probably have to run the test again. I am also losing weight because of the PCOS and havent lost weight in weeks even though i am eating healthliy. My life and health just feel so out of control and apart from immediate family nobody is listening to me.
yorkshirelass - 12-Sep-11 @ 10:15 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: