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HOME>> Article - Symptoms of Depression : The 7 Signs of Depression
Symptoms of Depression : The 7 Signs of Depression

Symptoms for clinical depression are provided in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  This book is used by mental health professionals in the diagnosis of mental health disorders.  The diagnosis of major depression is made when an individual experiences a number of symptoms for a period of two weeks or more which include: a low mood and feelings of hopelessness (can be irritable mood in children and adolescents) –and/or- a loss of interest and pleasure in all or most activities.  

If either or both of these symptoms are present, then other symptoms are identified as well.  
Five or more of the following symptoms are typically present in clinical depression:

Changes in eating habits.  This can be either a decrease or increase in appetite with a loss or gain of 5% of body weight within a month when not dieting.

Changes in sleeping patterns.  Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.

Fatigue/Low energy.  Fatigue or low energy nearly every day; tire easily; lack motivation.

Low self-esteem.  Feelings of worthlessness; excessive or inappropriate guilt.

Cognitive impairment.  Difficulty concentrating; indecisiveness, difficulty making decisions

Thoughts of death.  Recurrent thoughts of death; suicidal thoughts, plans or attempts.  This occurs in 15-20% of people who are depressed.

Psychomotor agitation or retardation.   Lethargy nearly every day (slowed speech; lifelessness) –or- agitation (restlessness).  This symptom is recognizable to others and not solely subjective feelings.

The symptoms of depression cause clinically significant impairment in important areas of functioning (social, occupational). The diagnosis of clinical depression needs to be determined by a mental health or medical professional who is trained to rule out other causes of the symptoms.  Symptoms of bereavement (loss of a loved one) are very similar to depression and they can be confused if not properly distinguished.  Medical conditions, psychotic disorders, substance-related problems also have to be taken in account and ruled out as direct causes of depression.

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