There are many emotional and psychological reactions that victims of rape and sexual assault can experience. One of the most common of these is depression.

The term “depression” can be confusing since many of the symptoms are experienced by people as normal reactions to events in their life. At some point or another during one’s life, everyone feels sad or “blue.” This also means that recognizing depression can be difficult since the symptoms can easily be attributed to other causes. These feelings are perfectly normal, especially during difficult times.

Depression becomes something more than just normal feelings of sadness when the symptoms last for more than two weeks. Therefore, if you experience five or more of the symptoms of depression over the course of two weeks you should consider talking to your doctor about what you are experiencing.


The symptoms for depression include:

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Change in appetite with significant weight loss (without dieting) or weight gain
  • Loss of energy or persistent fatigue or lethargy
  • Significant change in sleep patterns (insomnia, sleeping too much, fitful sleep, etc.)
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, social withdrawal.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or inappropriate guilt
  • Pessimism or indifference
  • Unexplained aches and pains (headaches, stomachaches)
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Irritability, worry, anger, agitation, or anxiety
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Depression can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. Depression is not a sign of weakness, and it is not something that someone can make him/herself “snap out of.”



American psychiatric association, diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: text revision, fourth edition, 2000


Sections on this page have been adapted from: Rainn



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