Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a real medical condition that can affect your body, thoughts, emotions, and behaviour.

Depression is different from normal sadness in that it consumes our day-to-day lives and interferes with our ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings we have when depressed – such as helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness – can be intense and unrelenting.

The symptoms listed below can be part of life’s normal ebbs and flows and don’t always signal depression. But the more symptoms we have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted, the more likely it is that we’re dealing with depression (or, more technically, major depressive disorder).

I knew something was off with my stress and mood, but I couldn’t quite sort it out. I wish I had known I was dealing with depression sooner, I could have started back towards recovery before hitting rock bottom.

– 35, Canada

Depression is a very common issue for people of all ages, but unfortunately it’s not something that many of us have learned the signs of. If we know what to look for, we can better monitor ourselves (and those we care about), and reach out as soon as we notice something is off.

Common symptoms of depression

Common symptoms of depression include being withdrawn, difficulty sleeping, losing interest in friends and activities we used to enjoy, and difficulty concentrating on things.[1] How much we experience these symptoms can change over time.

Each symptom on its own can have a significant effect on our lives, but the collective impact of many symptoms can be very profound.

Suicidal thoughts are also a common symptom of depression, and should not be ignored. Even if we’re not experiencing any of the other symptoms of depression, having suicidal thoughts are a signal that it’s time to reach out (this includes fantasizing about suicide without any intention to act on it).

Depression iconDepressed mood or irritable

You feel down or irritated most of the day, nearly every day.

Interest IconDecreased interest or pleasure

You lose interest in doing things you used to enjoy, such as sports, hobbies, movies, or hanging out with your friends.

Weight IconSignificant weight change or change in appetite

Your weight and appetite are a lot less or a lot more than usual.

sleep iconChange in sleep

You find yourself sleeping too little or too much.

Activity IconChange in activity

You feel as if everything (speech, thinking, moving) is slowed. The opposite can also occur, whereby you feel very agitated and almost jumpy (such as finding it tough to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing).

Energy iconFatigue or loss of energy

You feel low on energy, even when you haven’t exerted yourself. This fatigue isn’t alleviated by rest or sleep.

Guit IconGuilt/ worthlessness

You have negative and unrealistic feelings of guilt or about being worthless.

Concentration IconConcentration

You have trouble thinking or concentrating, or making decisions.

Exclamation point iconSuicidality

You have thoughts of death or suicide, or have a suicide plan.

Other symptoms of depression in men

Research has found that some men also experience other symptoms that can mask the common symptoms of depression described above. These symptoms, which include irritability and aggression, physical pain, risk taking/recklessness, and substance (alcohol, drugs) misuse, have been referred to as “male type” depression symptoms.[2]

Pain iconPhysical Pain

Sometimes depression in men can show up as backache, frequent headaches, sleep problems, sexual dysfunction, or digestive problems that don’t seem to respond to normal treatment.

Anger IconAnger

This can include irritability, being overly sensitive to criticism, losing your sense of humour, experiencing frequent road rage, having a short temper, being controlling, or being verbally or physically abusive toward others.

Recklass iconReckless behaviour

You might find yourself engaging in escaping or risky behaviour. This could mean pursuing dangerous sports, driving recklessly, or engaging in unsafe sex. You might drink too much, abuse drugs, or gamble compulsively.

Depression is different for each person

Depression affects everyone in different ways, and symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another. For example:

  • One guy may not have enough energy to even get out of bed, while another may feel constantly edgy and restless.
  • Another man might feel really down and break into tears seemingly for no reason, while another might snap angrily at the smallest irritation.
  • One guy may lose his appetite and find it difficult to eat anything, while another is constantly over-eating.

These differences point to the unique experiences that each person has when dealing with depression. It’s also important to point out that a person’s experience of symptoms can change over time, with regard to intensity, duration, and even the types of symptoms that one experiences.

Symptoms of depression in men can also overlap with symptoms of anxiety.

Depression check

Depression doesn’t come on suddenly–it can slowly creep up and before we know it, we’re caught in its grip. Recognizing depression is the first step to preventing or stopping it from controlling our lives.

Take our Self-Check, a depression screening tool, to gauge whether you might be suffering from depression.

Next step:


  1. Torres, F. (2020). What is depression? American Psychiatric Association.
  2. Rice, S. M., Fallon, B. J., Aucote, H. M., & Möller-Leimkühler, A. M. (2013). Development and preliminary validation of the male depression risk scale: Furthering the assessment of depression in men. Journal of Affective Disorders, 151(3), 950–958.

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