What Are the Warning Signs of Depression?

If you or a loved one have been feeling down for a while, you might be wondering what the signs of depression are. This is understandable. Depression can be very serious and if you suspect you may have depression, you should look for the depression signs.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness that is primarily characterized by a down (or depressed) mood or by a lack of interest in some or all activities. Major depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a combination of at least five symptoms over the minimum of a two-week period.

Depression Signs

Early signs of depression are known as prodromal depression symptoms. Prodromal symptoms of depression are typically similar to the symptoms of depression, but they are present before a person meets the formal diagnosis of depression. It should be noted that the presence of prodromal depression symptoms will not always lead to full-blown depression.

Each person is an individual and thus is likely to have their own depression warning signs. That said, according to “Study of Prodromal and Residual Symptoms of Depression,” many people share common signs of depression. According to that study, the following are depression warning signs experienced by more than 20 percent of people studied that would go on to experience full major depressive disorder:

  • Irritability – 45 percent
  • Insomnia – 45 percent
  • Reduced energy – 43.8 percent
  • Increased fatigue – 36.3 percent
  • Interrupted sleep – 36.3 percent
  • Psychic tension – 32.5 percent
  • Psychic anxiety – 28.7 percent
  • Early morning awakening – 26.3 percent
  • Decrease in sleep duration – 22.5 percent

Of the 80 people studied, all had at least one depression sign in the weeks before they were diagnosed with depression. People experienced depression signs, on average, 64 days before diagnosis, however, onset of the signs of depression ranged from 20 to 300 days.

The warning signs of depression vary but are present in most people before depression is diagnosed. Learn about depression signs at HealthyPlace.

Risk Factors that Should Make You Look for Depression Signs

While the following may not be official depression warning signs, these risk factors may make you more likely to experience depression. So, if you have these risk factors, you may want to screen for depression signs regularly to ensure depression doesn’t sneak up on you.

The risk factors that may make you more vulnerable to depression include:

It’s important to remember that while risk factors may increase your chances of experiencing depression, it doesn’t mean you will experience depression for sure.

If you see depression signs in yourself or if you’re concerned about the possibility of depression, make sure you talk to a healthcare provider such as your family doctor, a psychiatrist or psychologist.

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 30). What Are the Warning Signs of Depression?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Last Updated: January 9, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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