Depression Signs and Symptoms

Most people know when they feel “the blues”. But do you know the difference between depression and the blues?

photo placeholder. Original ink drawing by Imei Hsu.
photo placeholder. Original ink drawing by Imei Hsu.

“The Blues” are likely situational and temporary in nature. You notice almost immediately that there is a change in how you feel, and there is an explainable “trigger”, such as temporary stress related to a project at work you don’t like,  the death of a beloved pet, or dear friend has moved far away. Depression may be more subtle, longer in duration, and may include other confusing symptoms, such as anxiety and suicidal thoughts, that takes many people by surprise.

According to, the most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities.
  • Appetite or weight changes.
  • Sleep changes.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Self-loathing.
  • Concentration problems.
  • Unexplained aches and pains.

Untreated depression, unlike untreated “blues”, can lead to profound pain, isolation, and in some cases, suicide. It’s important that once you’ve identified that you are depressed, you should seek professional help immediately.

There are also multiple kinds of depression, such as Bipolar depression, atypical depression, Dysthymia (depression that is more mild, but reoccurs cyclically), and Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is important to be diagnosed correctly in order to manage the symptoms of your type of depression correctly.

Depression can happen at any age or stage of life, and the treatment of depression is not a one-size fits all methodology. Depression in teens is going to be treated differently than depression in the geriatric population, and men and women manifest depression differently as well.

Typically, depression is treated with a combination of psychotherapy (“talk” therapy), food and supplements, psychotropic medication (anti-depressant),  exercise, rest, and in the case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, UVB light exposure and Vitamin D.  I typically interview clients about the sources of depression, take a family history, and look at the entire current picture to help you manage depression symptoms. Typical therapy helps clients feel better within a few weeks, and the follow up can continue for 12 months or longer, depending on the body’s response to the therapy.

There is life after feelings of depression. It’s up to you to do something about it, and professional counseling can be a part of  your path to feeling better.

By Imei Hsu

Imei Hsu is a mental health counselor, active retired RN, AIP Coach and PN1-NC, writer, triathlete and arts promoter in the Seattle area and through online services. With 30+ years in healthcare (22+ years in mental health), Imei has a commitment to helping people discover insight into their health, relationships, and connecting. She is the owner of Seattle Direct Counseling and the blog, a presenter and speaker on a variety of psychological topics, and a positive force on the Internet. She launched her personal project, My Allergy Advocate, in 2018. Imei is a two-time Ironman Finisher (Mont-Tremblant 2016, Ironman Canada 2018); she also finished her first ultramarathon in 2017 and has gone on to race the 100K distance while preparing for 100 Mile trail races and a backyard ultra. You can find her running everywhere and eating all the thingz, watching movies, camping under the stars, and cooking real food.

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