Mild Depression, What is it? Mild Depression Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Treatment

Mood, thought, and behavior change all indicate a mild form of depressive disorder, all symptoms of mild depression.

What is Mild Depression?

Being mildly depressed, dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder, is a common mental health problem affecting millions worldwide. Even though it’s called “mild depression,” it can still greatly affect a person’s day-to-day life and overall health. This article aims to fully explain mild depression, including its symptoms, causes, different types, and treatments.

Mild Depression Symptoms

Mild depression symptoms include a wide range of mood, thinking, and behavior changes that point to a mild depressive disorder. Some of these signs are:

  • Feelings of sadness that don’t go away: People with mild depression may feel sad, empty, or unhappy for a long time. This change in mood can hurt their overall health.
  • Less energy and tiredness: People with mild depression often say they have less energy and feel tired or worn out even after doing little physical or mental work.
  • Changes in how you sleep: Insomnia or sleeping too much are common signs of mild depression. Some people may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling sleepy during the day.
  • Changes in appetite and weight: Mild depression can cause changes in appetite, like more cravings or a loss of interest in food. Because of this, people may either gain or lose weight.
  • Trouble focusing and making decisions: Cognitive symptoms like being unable to focus, having a bad memory, or being unable to make a decision can make it hard to go about your daily life and get things done.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure: One of the most common symptoms of depression, even the mild form, is anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure or find enjoyment in things that used to be fun.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness: People with mild depression may have negative thoughts about themselves, feel hopeless about the future, or feel like they aren’t worth much.
  • Irritability or agitation: Some people may show signs of irritability, restlessness, or a greater tendency to get angry or frustrated easily.
  • Mild depression can make people less interested in social interactions, making them withdraw from friends, family, and other social activities.
  • Decreased motivation: People with mild depression may feel like they don’t want to do things, enjoy their hobbies, or go to work.

Causes of Mild Depression

Mild depression, also called dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder, has more than one cause and can be caused by several different things. Here are some common causes:

  • Biological factors: Chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, can become out of balance and cause mild depression. There may also be a higher chance that depression runs in the family or is caused by genes.
  • Psychological factors: Some personality traits, like being very hard on yourself, having low self-esteem, or having a tendency to think negatively, can make you more likely to get mild depression. Stressful life events, trauma, or major life changes, like the death of a loved one or problems in a relationship, can also cause or worsen symptoms.
  • Environment: Mild depression can be caused by things in the environment, like a dysfunctional family, a history of abuse or neglect, or ongoing problems in personal or professional relationships.
  • Chronic health problems: People with long-term health problems like diabetes, heart disease, or chronic pain may be more likely to develop mild depression because of the physical and emotional stress of caring for their condition.
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol: Abuse of drugs or alcohol, like drinking too much, can cause or make depressive symptoms worse. Depression and drug abuse often go hand in hand, and each can worsen the other.
  • Changes in hormones: Changes in women, especially during menstruation, pregnancy, the time after giving birth, or perimenopause, can make them more likely to get mild depression.
  • Bad things that happened to you as a child, like being ignored, abused, or living in an unstable family, can have long-lasting effects on your mental health and make you more likely to get depressed as an adult.
Mood, thought, and behavior change all indicate a mild form of depressive disorder, all symptoms of mild depression.
Mood, thought, and behavior change all indicate a mild form of depressive disorder, all symptoms of mild depression.

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Mild Depression Fact Sheet

Definition: Depression is a common mental health disorder characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and a range of physical and cognitive symptoms. It affects how a person thinks, feels, and functions daily.

Prevalence: Depression is a global health concern, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.

Symptoms: Common symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and weight, sleep disturbances, low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Risk Factors: Depression can be influenced by various factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, trauma, chronic medical conditions, certain medications, substance abuse, and significant life events such as loss or relationship problems. Women may be at a higher risk due to hormonal fluctuations

Impact: Depression can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life, affecting their relationships, work or school performance, physical health, and overall well-being. It can also increase the risk of other health problems, including cardiovascular diseases.

Treatment: Depression is a treatable condition. Treatment options may include psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), medication (such as antidepressants), or a combination of both. Lifestyle modifications, social support, and self-care practices are essential to manage depression.

Breaking the Stigma: Depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a medical condition that requires understanding, compassion, and support. By promoting open conversations, raising awareness, and challenging stigmas associated with mental health, we can create a more supportive environment for individuals affected by depression.

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Mild Depression Statistics

Understanding the stages of depression and the prevalence of this mental health condition is crucial in addressing its impact on individuals and society. Depression is a common and serious mental disorder affecting millions worldwide. By examining the stages of depression from a statistical perspective, we can gain valuable insights into its prevalence, demographic patterns, and the burden it places on individuals and healthcare systems.

21 million

An estimated 21.0 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4% of all U.S. adults.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (10.5%) than males (6.2%).

Source: National Institute on Mental Health


The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (17.0%).

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Major Depressive Disorder Recurrent Mild Symptoms

Major Depressive Disorder with Recurrent Mild Symptoms, or MDRMS, is a type of major depressive disorder in which mild depressive symptoms happen repeatedly. Here are a few important things about MDRMS:

Recurring episodes: People with MDRMS have more than one mild depression episode over time. These episodes may come and go, with times of remission or stability in between.

Mild depressive symptoms: During an episode of MDRMS, the symptoms are usually less severe than during a severe depressive episode. But they still cause stress and make it hard to go about daily life.

Duration and frequency: To meet the criteria for MDRMS, the individual must experience at least two or more episodes of mild depression that last for a minimum of two weeks each. Over two years or more, these episodes may happen.

Even though the symptoms aren’t too bad, they can still affect things like work or school performance, relationships, and overall well-being.

Risk factors and co-occurring disorders: People with MDRMS may have had depressive episodes before, have a history of depression in their family, or have other risk factors for major depressive disorder. They may also have a higher chance of having more severe episodes of depression or other mental health problems besides MDRMS.

Treatment options: Depending on the person’s needs and preferences, MDRMS can be treated with a combination of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), and medication. Lifestyle changes, ways to deal with stress, and help from friends and family can also help.

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Types of Mild Depression

Mild depression, also called dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder, is a form of depression that lasts for a long time but has milder symptoms. There are different kinds of mild depression, each with its symptoms and characteristics. Here are a few examples:

  • Pure dysthymic disorder: People with this type have depressive symptoms that don’t go away for at least two years (or one year for children and teens) and don’t get better for long periods. The symptoms are usually mild but last long, making it hard to go about daily life and be healthy overall.
  • Double depression is when a person with dysthymia has both major depressive episodes and milder depressive symptoms that last for a long time. These episodes of major depression can be worse and may only last for a shorter time.
  • High-functioning depression: People with high-functioning depression have mild depressive symptoms but can still do most of the things they need to do in their daily lives. Outwardly, they may seem successful, productive, or busy, but inside, they may struggle with constant bad feelings and a low mood.
  • Atypical depression has a distinct pattern of symptoms, such as mood swings, increased appetite or weight gain, too much sleep or too much fatigue, feeling heavy in the limbs, and being more sensitive to rejection from other people. Even though the symptoms are mild, people with atypical depression may feel better quickly when something good happens.
  • Chronic major depressive disorder with incomplete remission: Some people may still have mild depressive symptoms even after a major depressive episode. This kind of mild depression happens when the symptoms don’t go away completely, making it hard to go about daily life.

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Mild Depression Treatment at We Level Up Washington Behavioral Health Center

Depression is a serious mental illness that can significantly impact a person’s life. Many different treatment options and mild depression medication are available, and the best approach will vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and the severity of their depression.


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, involves working with a trained therapist to explore and address the underlying causes and triggers of depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are widely used and evidence-based psychotherapy for depression.


Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), can help alleviate depressive symptoms by balancing brain chemistry. Medications are typically prescribed and monitored by a psychiatrist or a healthcare provider.

Self-Help Strategies

Engaging in self-help strategies can complement professional treatment. This may include practicing stress reduction techniques, incorporating regular exercise into your routine, getting sufficient sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, and avoiding substance abuse.

Lifestyle Modifications

Making positive changes in lifestyle habits can benefit mood and overall well-being. This may involve establishing a regular sleep schedule, engaging in enjoyable activities, socializing with supportive individuals, and reducing stress through relaxation techniques.

Support Groups

Joining support groups or participating in group therapy can provide a sense of community, validation, and shared experiences, which can be helpful for individuals with depression. Support groups can be in-person or online.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Some individuals may benefit from alternative or complementary therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, mindfulness meditation, or herbal supplements. However, consulting with a healthcare professional before pursuing these approaches is essential.

We Level Up Washington Behavioral Health Center

We Level Up Washington Behavioral Health Center is a comprehensive mental health treatment center that offers a variety of treatment options for depression. Our experienced clinicians will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your needs. We offer a variety of treatment modalities, including psychotherapy, medication management, and support groups. We also offer various lifestyle modification services, such as stress reduction training, sleep hygiene education, and nutrition counseling.

If you are struggling with depression, we encourage you to contact us for help. We are here to support you on your journey to recovery.

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  1. How to treat mild depression?

    Psychotherapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), is often used to help people with mild depression change their negative thought patterns and behaviors. Changing your lifestyle with regular exercise, healthy eating, enough sleep, and ways to deal with stress can be helpful. Getting help from friends and family, taking care of yourself, and using mindfulness and relaxation techniques can also help. In some cases, a doctor may tell you to take medicine.

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Search We Level Up Mild Depression, What is it? Mild Depression Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Treatment Topics & Resources
  1. Persistent Depressive Disorder. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Reviewed July 8, 2018.
  2. Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. Revised February 2018.
  3. Melrose S. Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia: An overview of assessment and treatment approachesOpen Journal of Depression. 2017;06(01):1-13. doi:10.4236/ojd.2017.61001
  4. Patel RK, Rose GM. Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013;168-171.