DepressionDepression Symptoms

Let's Talk About the Symptoms of Depression

Everyone lives in The Dumps on occasion. But some experience sadness, and other issues, that go far beyond. Not sure where your feelings fall? We've got the doctor-vetted details to help you figure out if you have clinical depression.

    Our Pro PanelDepression Symptoms

    We asked some of the nation’s top depression experts to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.

    Charles B. Nemeroff, M.D., Ph.D.Chief Medical Officer of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences

    Dell Medical School, The University of Texas
    Austin, TX
    Jennifer L. Payne, M.D.

    Jennifer L. Payne, M.D.Director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center and Associate Professor of Psychiatry

    Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
    Baltimore, MD
    Carol A. Bernstein, M.D.

    Carol A. Bernstein, M.D.Psychiatrist, Vice Chair for Faculty Development and Well-Being in the Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
    The Bronx, NY

    Frequently Asked QuestionsDepression Symptoms

    What does depression feel like?

    When you wake up in the morning, you might not want to get out of bed. You think: What's the point? Your exhaustion knows no bounds. Every task feels overwhelming and impossible. Your old self—the person who was engaging, smart, funny—has vanished, leaving behind an empty husk who just wants to crawl back under the covers. You can’t concentrate, so you might make more mistakes and feel like you’ve let down your friends, family, and colleagues. You're paralyzed by decision-making. You feel like you suck at everything. As you slowly drown in your ocean of negativity, everyone else effortlessly swims around you, seemingly not noticing (or caring about) your distress.

    Why is postpartum depression so hard for new moms to recognize or talk about?

    Have you met a new mom? Odds are, she has spit-up on her shirt and unwashed hair. She might not recognize the signs of depression because she is recovering from the physical trauma of childbirth, is sleep-deprived, and feels overwhelmed with a tiny person whose every need she must meet and whose only means of communicating is desperate crying. Maybe she's not sure if this is her new normal. Maybe she's embarrassed that she's "failing" at her new job (a.k.a. motherhood). Maybe she's scared if she tells people the truth, they'll think she's a bad mom. If this is happening to someone you know, encourage her to see a psychiatrist ASAP.

    Can children get depressed?

    Yes, though depression in kids looks a little different than it does in adults. First, instead of seeming deflated or sad, kids tend to be irritable or lash out in anger. Young children may complain of physical symptoms like tummy aches and headaches. Their performance in school might decline, while emotional outbursts and behavioral problems might increase. They may avoid playing with classmates and activities they used to think were fun, threaten to run away from home, or give away their prized toys or possessions.

    How will a doctor diagnose depression?

    If you're not sure who to talk to, your primary care physician is a great place to start. Make an appointment for a checkup and, when you're in there, tell them your concerns. It might feel awkward to open up but remember that depression is a health issue and they're a health professional. (Plus, thanks to HIPAA, this conversation is 100% private—your doc isn't allowed to reveal your medical info to anyone without your permission). Say something like, "I haven't been feeling like myself lately and I think I might have depression. What should my next steps be?" To help get you on your way to recovery, they'll ask a bunch of questions about how you've been eating, sleeping, and feeling lately, and whether you've thought about hurting or even killing yourself. Answer as truthfully as you can. They might try to rule out a possible vitamin deficiency, thyroid condition, or other medical issue with blood tests. They'll also likely refer you to a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, who will be able to get more in-depth.

    Meirav Devash

    Meirav Devash


    Meirav Devash is a writer, editor, and beauty, health, and wellness expert, reporting on topics from mental health to goth fitness and cannabis law.