Skip to main content

Depression Symptoms & Causes

What is depression?

Depression has many causes, and it also has effective treatments.

Everyone feels sad sometimes, or grieves after a loss. Minor ups and downs in   emotions are normal. Depression is more than that, though. It is a serious medical condition, just like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.

Depression can affect your thoughts, feelings, health and behavior every day. It’s not something you can just get over. 

There are several types of depression. Major depression is probably the best known type, and it is common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 6.7 percent of American adults have major depression.1

Other types of depression include post-partum depression (after a woman has a baby) and seasonal affective disorder, or SAD (depression during the winter months in colder climates).

1 National Institute of Mental Health. What is depression?

Symptoms of depression

Here are some symptoms of depression (you may have some or all of them):

  • You feel sad, or worthless. 
  • Your outlook is negative or even hopeless.
  • You have little or no energy.
  • You’re not interested in doing the things you normally enjoy. 
  • You eat or sleep less, or more, than usual.
  • You have trouble remembering things or making decisions.
  • You have unexplained aches, pains or digestive problems.
Men can experience depression differently from women. Men with depression can be angry or irritable. They often have little to no energy, and have difficulty sleeping.2
 

2 National Institute of Mental Health. Men and Depression.

Causes of depression

Many factors can contribute to depression, such as:

  • Genetics (family history)
  • Certain medicines
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Other psychiatric conditions
  • Other medical illnesses
  • Extreme stress or grief

If you have a health condition or suffer from ongoing pain, you may be at risk for depression. 

Depression is not your fault. With help, you can get better. 

Treating depression

Think of depression the same way you think of any other illness. There are treatments, but they won’t work if you don’t get help.

Learn about types of depression treatment

Learn about the types of mental health professionals

Assess your risk of depression

At this time, there are no blood tests or X-rays that can tell if someone is depressed. The best way to make a diagnosis of major depression is to carefully examine how you feel and discuss this with your doctor. 

Our assessment may help you and your doctor decide if you have depression that should be treated. Like many other health problems, depression can get worse if it’s ignored. 

Take the depression assessment

 

JavaScript is required

In order to have the best experience on Aetna.com, Javascript needs to be enabled.
Learn how to change your browser settings to enable Javascript.

You are now leaving the Aetna website

Links to various non-Aetna sites are provided for your convenience only. Aetna Inc. and its subsidiary companies are not responsible or liable for the content, accuracy, or privacy practices of linked sites, or for products or services described on these sites.

Continue >