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Signs of Depression

FEBRUARY 7, 2018 | 3-minute read

Nothing felt like it was going right. Shaunne, a U.S. Army Veteran, just wanted to stay in bed, away from the outside world. “Everybody’s saying, ‘Oh just snap out of it,’” she remembers. “But it’s not just ‘snap out of it,’ because you don’t see that light at the end of the tunnel.”

Darren, U.S. Navy Veteran
Darren, U.S. Navy Veteran

Marty, an Army Reservist, just felt empty. He had no desire to go to work.

Darren, a Navy Veteran, was either sleeping all day or not sleeping at all. So much was on his mind; it was keeping him up and wearing him down. “Didn’t really want to be around people,” he says. “I tried to isolate myself and stay away from others, just ’cause I wasn’t really comfortable speaking with them and talking about what was going on in my life.”

Most people, at some point in their lives, have felt sad for one reason or another. It’s natural to occasionally feel worn down, or irritable, or to feel like you just need some time for yourself. But those feelings will typically pass in time. When they stick around and start to take over, that can be a sign of depression.

Hundreds of thousands of Veterans have experienced depression. It can lead you to feel intensely sad, hopeless, or down on yourself. People living with depression may withdraw from friends and family, become irritated easily, or constantly focus on the things in their life that are not going well.

“People around me started noticing my symptoms of depression,” says Jeff, a U.S. Marine Reservist who served in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. “They were like: ‘You’re never happy. You’re never joyful. Your anger is starting to become uncontrollable.’”

Three of the most common signs of depression are prolonged sadness, feeling hopeless, or losing interest or enjoyment in your day-to-day activities. If these feelings last for two weeks or become particularly intense, it is important to talk with someone — a friend, family member, doctor, mental health professional, or religious adviser — or consult with your local VA medical center.

You also may want to take a confidential and anonymous self-assessment to learn more about your symptoms.

Here are some signs of depression: 

  • Sleeping too much or not enough almost every day
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Eating more or less than usual almost every day
  • Feeling anxious, worried, or nervous
  • Feeling restless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Finding it hard to focus or remember things
  • Feeling like you have no energy almost every day
  • Feeling unworthy or guilty nearly every day

For Bill, an Army Veteran, depression came on as a result of medications he was taking for his liver problems. For others, it may arise from the death of a loved one, a transition, financial problems, or a health issue. Whatever the reason, it is important to seek help if you are feeling depressed.

“I was seeing a psychiatrist on a fairly regular basis,” Bill says. “I just talked to them a lot, and it was kind of like all of these thoughts and fears that I was just holding in — and they were building up inside of me — I was able to just release them.”

Learn more about the signs of depression and ways to seek help if you think you may be experiencing it.


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