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Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression may be hard to notice at first. They can be different from person to person, and you may confuse them with just feeling "off" or "down." You also may confuse the symptoms with another health problem.

The two most common symptoms of depression are:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day.

  • Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most daily activities. And you feel this way nearly every day.

Symptoms include:

  • Losing or gaining weight. You may also feel like eating more or less than usual almost every day.

  • Sleeping too much or not enough almost every day.

  • Feeling restless and not be able to sit still, or you may sit quietly and feel that moving takes great effort. Others can easily see this behavior.

  • Feeling tired or as if you have no energy almost every day.

  • Feeling unworthy or guilty nearly every day. You may have low self-esteem and worry that people don't like you.

  • Finding it hard to focus, remember things, or make decisions nearly every day. You may feel anxious or worried about things.

Are you depressed?

If you have at least 5 of the above symptoms for 2 weeks or longer, and 1 of the symptoms is either sadness or loss of interest, you may have depression. If you have 2 to 4 symptoms for a period of at least 2 years (1 year for a child), you may have a long-term form of depression called dysthymic disorder (dysthymia).

Even if you have fewer symptoms, you may still be depressed and may benefit from treatment. No matter how many symptoms you have, it's important to see your healthcare provider. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chance for a quick and full recovery.

It's possible to have periods of both energy and elation (mania) and depression. This may be bipolar disorder. If this happens to you, tell your healthcare provider. The treatments for depression and bipolar disorder are different.

Symptoms can vary

Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe:

  • In mild depression, you have few symptoms. They affect your life, but you can deal with them with treatment.

  • In moderate depression, you have more symptoms and they are beginning to change your life.

  • In severe depression, the symptoms change your life and affect your job or career and your relationships.

Depression can affect your physical health. You may have headaches or other aches and pains or have digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea. You may have trouble having sex or may lose interest in it. If you notice any of these changes, talk with your healthcare provider.

Depression, PMS, and childbirth

Many women have mood changes before menstruation. This may be a sign of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But if your premenstrual mood changes and other PMS symptoms are making daily life hard or harming your relationships, you may have a type of depression known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Women also may feel sad after having a baby. But if you feel very sad after you've had your baby, see your healthcare provider. You could have postpartum depression.

Symptoms in older adults, children and teens

Symptoms of depression may be different for older adults. Depression can make older adults confused or forgetful or cause them to stop seeing friends and doing things. It can be confused with problems like dementia.

Symptoms of depression in children and teens can be different from adult symptoms. These symptoms include doing poorly in school, having temper tantrums, and becoming sexually active.

Do you have thoughts about suicide?

If you or a loved one has thoughts about death or suicide, call 911 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) and press 1, or use other emergency services. Or you can chat with a trained counselor online at

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 9/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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