Detecting and Diagnosing Depression: It Can Look Different in Men and Women and in Teenagers, Too

A pervasive but unjustifiable melancholy, hopelessness, or aversion to positive emotions characterizes depression. It's different from sorrow and other feelings. The World Health Organization reports that depression is the greatest cause of disability globally (WHO).

It may wreak havoc on a person's social life, making it hard to hold down a job or take care of one's health, and in extreme circumstances, even increase the risk of suicide. Almost 40,000 Americans take their own lives each year, and sadness is a major factor in many of these tragic endings.

Anyone of any age, including children and teenagers, may be afflicted. This page overviews depression, including its definition, possible causes, different forms, treatments, and more.

Warning Signals for Depression in Adults

Even though not everyone experiences depression in the same manner, there are recognizable symptoms that are often connected with this condition. To make a clinical diagnosis of depression, a patient must exhibit at least five of the following symptoms. Nevertheless, the specific mix and number of symptoms will vary from patient to patient. You may be battling with depression if you have been feeling any of the following symptoms for the better part of the day, practically every day, for at least two weeks −

  • Isolated bouts of sadness throughout the day (or an irritable mood in children and adolescents)

  • Disinterest or disinterest in once pleasurable things

  • Any change in appetite or body weight that cannot be explained by a simple increase or reduction in calories consumed

  • Restlessness during sleep or excessive snoozing

  • Weakening of strength or stamina

  • Inability to sit still or to speak clearly; mental and physical slowness

  • An overwhelming sense of remorse or helplessness

  • Problems with thinking, focusing, or deciding

  • Repeated depressive or suicidal ideation

You may also notice changes in your body, such as the appearance of new or intensified aches, pains, or digestive problems. (Sometimes, the physical manifestations of mental suffering are more pronounced than their mental counterparts.) There may be an effort to self-treat the underlying mental discomfort if there are changes in behaviour or increasing drug usage.

Male Depression

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that while men and women might have similar depressive symptoms, there are significant disparities in the frequency with which individuals report particular symptoms.

A greater proportion of depressed males than women report the following symptoms −

  • Anger

  • Aggression

  • Addiction to drugs and alcohol

  • Behaviours that might potentially cause harm

Maybe as a reflection of societal standards, depressed males are more prone to engage in harmful coping techniques such as workaholism or gambling. The diagnosis of depression is also less common in males than in women.

Depression in Females

Women are twice as likely as males to get a depression diagnosis. The following symptoms are more common among depressed women −

  • Stress

  • Indecisiveness

  • Anxiety

  • Sad and pitiful

  • Disturbed sleep

  • low spirits

Adolescent and Childhood Depression

Teenage depression is rising, becoming a widespread mental health issue among adolescents and young adults. Research published in 2016 in Pediatrics found that the percentage of children ages 12-17 who had a severe depressive episode in the prior year increased from 8.7 per cent in 2005 to 11.3 per cent in 2014.

Researchers did not find an increase in adolescents receiving mental-health care despite the rise in depression, indicating that many young people are not getting the support they need.

Unfortunately, it seems that the prevalence of sadness and anxiety among children and teenagers increased during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to pre-pandemic levels. According to a meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2021, it is estimated that one in every four young people is coping with depressive symptoms, and one in every five is dealing with anxiety symptoms.

Mood and behavior shifts are common signs of depression in adolescents, although they are often dismissed as a natural part of coming of age.

In addition to these, other symptoms of depression in adolescents include −

  • Sudden, unexplained bouts of sadness and weeping

  • Distress or annoyance, especially about trivial matters

  • Decreased enthusiasm for previous hobbies

  • Irritability

  • Constantly beating oneself up and feeling terrible about it.

  • Rejection Sensitivity

  • Separation from others

  • Discomfort across the body for no apparent reason

  • Negative emotions and actions

  • Doing poorly in school or not attending class

  • Arguments with loved ones

  • Self-harm

  • Depression, hopelessness, or suicidal ideationess, or suicidal ideation


Untreated depression in your adolescent may have far-reaching effects on their health, relationships, and overall well-being. Among the potential complications of adolescent depression are the following −

  • Inappropriate use of alcoholic beverages and other drugs

  • Issues in the Classroom

  • Difficulties in the home and

  • interpersonal relationships
  • self-harm or deliberate suicide


There is currently no foolproof strategy for avoiding depression. Yet, these methods might be useful. Inspire your adolescent to −

  • If you want to be better prepared to deal with challenges as they happen, you should learn to manage your stress, build your resilience, and enhance your self-esteem.

  • Take care of yourself by adhering to a regular sleep schedule and limiting screen time.

  • When you need help, reach out to your friends and neighbors.

  • Depression may be prevented from progressing if therapy is sought as soon as symptoms are seen.

If your doctor has suggested continuing your therapy even after your depression symptoms have subsided, doing so will greatly increase the likelihood that you won't have a recurrence of your condition.

Could There be a Hereditary Component to Depression?

Those who have a first-degree relative with depression, such as a parent or sibling, are around three times more likely to acquire depression themselves. Nonetheless, many depressed individuals may not have a history of depression in their families.

Recent research has cast doubt on the idea that gene differences determine who is more or less likely to experience depression. The authors concede that genetics have a role in the onset of depression but that other factors are equally important.


Every facet of a person's life may be impacted by depression, making it an extremely significant and persistent medical disease. It may be lethal if it leads a person to consider suicide. Depression is not something that can be thought away. Being depressed does not reflect your character flaws or lack of strength. It can be treated, and early diagnosis and therapy may improve outcomes.

Seeing a specialist specialising in treating depression and being open to exploring various treatment options are essential while attempting to overcome this illness. The greatest outcomes are often achieved with a mix of medicine and treatment.

Updated on: 07-Apr-2023


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