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Military Health System

Depression

Depression affects your body, actions, thoughts, and mood. Left untreated, depression can last for days, months, or years. Depression is more serious than just feeling sad. Depression affects all areas of life and ranges from mild mood swings to severe negative feelings that disrupt daily life. Depression can also lead to suicidal thoughts. Instead of hoping that your depressing thoughts and feelings will go away after time, you can reach out for help from a healthcare professional. You can learn and practice skills to cope with depression.

People who are depressed may suffer from any of the following symptoms:

  1. Physical symptoms. You may have heard someone say “I feel physically depressed.” This often can refer to having decreased energy and fatigue, feeling slow or sluggish, weight loss or gains, or having headaches, stomach problems and maybe chronic pains.
  2. Thinking concerns. Negative thoughts about your life, the world, or your future can be a sign of depression. Someone who is depressed may have problems with their memory or concentrating and paying attention. It is common to feel a sense of hopelessness, excessive pessimism or negativity. Thoughts of death or suicide are serious and require immediate treatment by a healthcare professional.
  3. Changes in mood. Sadness and emptiness are most often associated with depression. It is not uncommon to feel restless, annoyed, nervous, angry, guilty or regretful. You may even feel more than one of these at a time.
  4. Behavior concerns. Depression can lead to isolation and less interest or pleasure in hobbies, activities and sex. Sleeping too much or too little as well as eating more or less than usual are signs of depression. You may take more dangerous risks or more frequently use tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and/or caffeine. Don’t be surprised if you laugh or cry at odd moments.

How do you know if you have depression? When should you consider getting help from a health care professional?

For more questions or answers about depression, please visit the VA National Center for PTSD website.

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Last Updated: May 23, 2022
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