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How to Recognize the Symptoms of Depression

It’s important to treat all the conditions that affect your health—including depression. Treatment for depression will help heal your body, mind, and spirit.

Women walking in a field, symptoms of depression 

What is depression?

Depression is an illness caused by problems with the chemicals in your brain. This chemical imbalance affects how you feel, think, and act. So, it’s wrong to see depression as a weakness or character flaw. Research has shown that it’s a medical illness just like diabetes or high blood pressure.  

There’s a lot of variety in how people experience depression. It can be mild or severe. You might have it only once in your lifetime, have several episodes over time, or have ongoing depression. Your symptoms may differ from those of other people with depression.  

Despite its various patterns, you should always take depression seriously. Untreated, depression can make it hard to be a good spouse, friend, or parent. It can hurt you at work and prevent you from taking care of yourself. It can prompt you to pull back from the world—and may even lead to suicide. The good news? Depression can be treated. Most people can recover and lead full, productive lives. 

What are the symptoms of depression?

If you have depression, you’ll probably experience several of the following symptoms:  

  • Feeling down, hopeless, irritable, or out of sorts
  • Taking little interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired or having little energy
  • A poor appetite or overeating
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Wanting to be alone more
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people may notice, or feeling so restless that you move around a lot more than usual
  • Feeling bad about yourself—thinking you’re a failure or that you’ve let yourself or others down

These symptoms may make it difficult for you to do your work or takecare of things at home. You may have trouble getting along with others.In the worst cases, your symptoms may lead you to have thoughts ofhurting yourself, or even think that you’d be better off dead.

Related: 5 Proven Steps to Help Fight Depression

Why treat your depression?

It’s important to treat depression because:

Hurting isn’t helpful“

No pain, no gain” doesn’t apply to mental health. You don’t help anyone by continuing to suffer without treatment. Would you avoid treatment for an earache or broken bone?

Treatment works

With the right treatment, 80% of those who seek help get better. Many people begin to feel better in just a few weeks.

You can live better today—and tomorrow

Treatment can ease your symptoms and help you feel like yourself again. With time, it may even eliminate symptoms entirely, and help prevent them from returning. 

Your doctor may use a questionnaire or screening tool, medical history, physical exam, and other diagnostic criteria to diagnose depression. Treatment might include counseling, medication, and care management.

Related: Suicide Prevention Resources in Utah

If you or someone you know is at risk, seek help. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24-hours/day: 800-273-TALK (8255)


You deserve to feel well. Get feeling better so you can enjoy your life again! If you need help finding a doctor, our Member Advocates can help. They can help you find the right doctor and make an appointment. Reach our Member Advocates at 800-515-2220.

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