EP 41: Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Now that we have acknowledged depression is real in our 1st episode, what are the sign and symptoms of it? In the 2nd episode in this series on depression, Dr. Agolli and Dr. Burdette discuss:

  1. Signs of depression.
  2. The difference between chronic depression and situational depression.
  3. Causes of depression.
  4. The impact stress and a poor diet have on depression.

Depression is a mood disorder that can affect a person’s daily life. Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person but some common symptoms include:

Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
Tiredness and lack of energy
Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it’s important to seek medical help.

Depression is a complex disease and there is no single cause of depression. It can occur for a variety of reasons and it has many different triggers123. Some possible causes of depression include:

  • Faulty mood regulation by the brain
  • Genetic vulnerability
  • Stressful life events
  • Medications
  • Medical problems
  • Hormonal imbalances3

It’s important to note that depression is not caused by personal weakness, laziness, or lack of willpower1.

Stress can contribute to depression12The effects of chronic, or long-term, stress can be harmful on their own, but they also can contribute to depression1. The ways depression can lead to stress are pretty clear. There’s good evidence that stress can cause depression1. Stress has direct effects on mood. Early initial symptoms of lowered mood can include irritability, sleep disruption, and cognitive changes, such as impaired concentration3However, the indirect effects of stress are often what causes depression to take hold3Stress may suppress the production of new neurons (nerve cells) in the hippocampus which plays a role in depression4.

Several nutrition, food and dietary compounds have been suggested to be involved in the onset and maintenance of depressive disorders and in the severity of depressive symptoms1Nutritional compounds might modulate depression associated biomarkers and parallel the development of depression, obesity and diabetes1One analysis concluded that a dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression2. Adequate nutrition is needed for countless aspects of brain functioning. Poor diet quality may be a modifiable risk factor for depression3.