What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The following are the most common symptoms of depression. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. In general, nearly everyone suffering from depression has ongoing feelings of sadness, and may feel helpless, hopeless, and irritable.

The American Psychiatric Association suggests that professional help is advisable for those who have four or more of the following symptoms continually for more than two weeks:

  • Noticeable change of appetite, with either significant weight loss not attributable to dieting or weight gain
  • Noticeable change in sleeping patterns, such as fitful sleep, inability to sleep, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt
  • Inability to concentrate or think, indecisiveness
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (Note: Individuals with this symptom should receive treatment immediately!)
  • Melancholia (defined as overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief), accompanied by the following:
    • Waking at least two hours earlier than normal in the morning
    • Feeling more depressed in the morning
    • Moving significantly more slowly
    • Disturbed thinking--for example, severely depressed people sometimes have beliefs not based in reality about physical disease, sinfulness, or poverty
    • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

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