Symptoms of Depression


General information about symptoms of Depression: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Depression. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Depression. Furthermore, symptoms of Depression may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Depression.

List of symptoms of Depression: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Depression includes:

Symptoms of Depression: When a person is clinically depressed, his or her ability to function both mentally and physically is affected, and the trouble may last for weeks, months or even years. Here is a list of the most common signs of depression. If several of these symptoms last for more than 2 weeks, see a doctor.

  • An "empty" feeling, ongoing sadness and anxiety

  • Tiredness, lack of energy

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex

  • Sleep problems, including very early morning awakening

  • Problems with eating and weight (gain or loss)

  • A lot of crying

  • Aches and pains that just wonít go away

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

  • Feelings that the future looks grim; feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless

  • Irritability

  • Thoughts of death or suicide; a suicide attempt.

Symptoms vary widely among people and, sometimes, depression can hide behind a smiling face. Donít ignore the warning signs. At its worst, serious depression can lead to suicide. Listen carefully when a friend or relative complains about being depressed or of people not caring. The person may be telling you that he or she needs help.1

Sure, everybody feels sad or blue now and then. But if you're sad most of the time, and it's giving you problems with

  • your grades or attendance at school
  • your relationships with your family and friends
  • alcohol, drugs, or sex
  • controlling your behavior in other ways

the problem may be DEPRESSION.2

When You're Depressed... 2

Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder Common to Adults, Children, and Adolescents

  • Persistent sad or irritable mood
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Significant change in appetite or body weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Signs That May Be Associated with Depression in Children and Adolescents

  • Frequent vague, non-specific physical complaints such as headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches or tiredness
  • Frequent absences from school or poor performance in school
  • Talk of or efforts to run away from home
  • Outbursts of shouting, complaining, unexplained irritability, or crying
  • Being bored
  • Lack of interest in playing with friends
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Social isolation, poor communication
  • Fear of death
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Reckless behavior
  • Difficulty with relationships

Most people think of depression only as sadness and low mood, but clinical depression is far more than the ordinary "down" moods everyone experiences now and then, and which pass after a visit with a friend or a good movie.

Depression is also more than a feeling of grief after losing someone you love. Following such a loss, for many people, a depressed mood is a normal reaction to grief. And these people may find it helpful to join a mutual support group, such as widowed-persons, to talk with others experiencing similar feelings.

However, when a depressed mood continues for some time, whether following a particular event or for no apparent reason, the person may be suffering from clinical depression--an illness that can be treated effectively.

Clinical depression is a whole body disorder. It can affect the way you think and the way you feel, both physically and emotionally. 4

Depressed people will seem sad, or "down," or may be unable to enjoy their normal activities. They may have no appetite and lose weight (although some people eat more and gain weight when depressed). They may sleep too much or too little, have difficulty going to sleep, sleep restlessly, or awaken very early in the morning. They may speak of feeling guilty, worthless, or hopeless; they may lack energy or be jumpy and agitated. They may think about killing themselves and may even make a suicide attempt. Some depressed people have delusions (false, fixed ideas) about poverty, sickness, or sinfulness that are related to their depression. Often feelings of depression are worse at a particular time of day, for instance, every morning or every evening.5

When that "down" mood, along with other symptoms, lasts for more than a couple of weeks, the condition may be clinical depression. Clinical depression is a serious health problem that affects the total person. In addition to feelings, it can change behavior, physical health and appearance, academic performance, social activity and the ability to handle everyday decisions and pressures.6

Everyone gets the blues now and then. It's part of life. But when there is little joy or pleasure after visiting with friends or seeing a good movie, there may be a more serious problem. Being depressed for a while, without letup, can change the way a person thinks or feels. Doctors call this "clinical depression." 7

Many older people have to deal with the death of loved ones or friends. Some may have a tough time getting used to retirement. Others are trying to deal with chronic illness. But, after a period of grieving or feeling troubled, most older people do get back to their daily lives. A person who is clinically depressed continues to have trouble coping both mentally and physically and may not feel better for weeks, months, or even years.

Here is a list of the most common signs of depression. If these last for more than 2 weeks, see a doctor.

  • An "empty" feeling, ongoing sadness, and anxiety.
  • Tiredness, lack of energy.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities, including sex.
  • Sleep problems, including very early morning waking.
  • Problems with eating and weight (gain or loss).
  • A lot of crying.
  • Aches and pains that just won't go away.
  • A hard time focusing, remembering, or making decisions.
  • Feeling that the future looks grim; feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless.
  • Being irritable.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; a suicide attempt.

More symptoms of Depression: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Depression, underlying causes of Depression, associated conditions for Depression, risk factors for Depression, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:

1. excerpt from Depression: NWHIC
2. excerpt from Let's Talk About Depression: NIMH
3. excerpt from Depression in Children and Adolescents A Fact Sheet for Physicians: NIMH
4. excerpt from If You're Over 65 and Feeling Depressed Treatment Brings New Hope: NIMH
5. excerpt from Medications: NIMH
6. excerpt from What to do When a Friend is Depressed: NIMH
7. excerpt from Depression A Serious but Treatable Illness - Age Page - Health Information: NIA

Last revision: July 1, 2003

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