What are the symptoms of depression? How do you know if you have it? The DSM-IV-TR, known as the "Bible" of clinical psychology, defines a major depressive episode as having one or both of the following, lasting at least two weeks:
- Sad, down, or "empty" mood, lasting almost all day, almost every day (dysphoria)
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed (anhedonia)
Other symptoms may include the following:
- Changes in appetite (either increased appetite or loss of appetite) and/or sudden changes in weight
- Sleep disturbances, particularly insomnia, early waking, or oversleeping
- Physical symptoms such as digestive trouble, headaches, or backaches that do not respond to conventional medical treatment
- Lack of motivation, which in severe cases may be experienced as "paralysis of the will"
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation -- that is, a "speeding up" or "slowing down" of one's movements, observed by others
- Irritability or restlessness
- Low self-esteem and/or feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, guilt, or hopelessness
- Social withdrawal
- Fatigue, loss of energy, feeling run down or sluggish
- Death or suicidal ideation -- that is, thoughts of one's own death, the death of others, or of taking one's own life
- Suicide attempts
Major depressive disorder is diagnosed when a major depressive episode as described above is experienced without a history of mania or hypomania. If there is a history of mania or hypomania, a bipolar disorder is diagnosed.
Symptoms of mania include the following. Hypomania includes the same symptoms but is less severe than full mania.
- Racing thoughts or "flight of ideas"
- Extremely decreased need for sleep -- this is different from insomnia in that the person does not even seem to need sleep
- Extremely high, happy, and euphoric mood, or a very intense and active bad (dysphoric) mood, perhaps rageful or anxious
- Abnormally high energy levels
- Distractability, impulsiveness, and risk-taking, typically greater than what is seen in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Pressured speech -- meaning that the person talks very fast as if there is a torrent of words pent up and the dam is bursting. A manic person with pressured speech is several steps of intensity beyond, for example, an auctioneer's calling
Take the Quick Depression Screening Quiz at Psych Central. Remember this is only a screening and cannot diagnose depression or any other illness. If you have a positive screening, it's recommended that you seek appropriate help, preferably from a psychologist or psychiatrist, or failing that, from your general physician.
Have you experienced depression?
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