Depression Symptoms: What are the Symptoms of Depression?
Many people live with the symptoms of depression for years without treatment because they do not realize they have a recognized, treatable mental illness.1Depression facts and statistics reveal the disorder affects 20% of women and 12% of men at some point in their lives and can negatively impact a person both physically and psychologically. The symptoms of depression can drastically affect social, occupational and personal functioning.
Sadness Hallmark Symptom of Depression
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by periods of extreme sadness. These periods are known as depressive episodes. Depression is defined in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) and includes several major classifications.
- Major depressive disorder (MDD) – symptoms of major depression involve a low (or depressed) mood state for two weeks or more
- Depression with catatonic or melancholic features – includes the standard depression symptoms as well as melancholic symptoms like excessive guilt or catatonic symptoms like mutism
- Atypical depression – atypical depression symptoms include increased appetite and need for sleep
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – depressive symptoms occur according to the time of year (season)
The specific set of depression symptoms for each individual varies.
Mild Symptoms of Depression
Many symptoms of depression can be mild, moderate or severe. For example, the feeling of sadness can occur in a variety of intensities. Depression symptoms can be thought of as mild or moderate if they mildly or moderately affect everyday functioning.
Possible mild symptoms of depression include:2
- Sadness or feeling "empty" or easy to tear
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities, hobbies
- Irritability or frustration
- Hopelessness, pessimism
- Reduced sex drive
- Change in sleep pattern
- Change in appetite (depression and weight gain, weight loss)
- Slowed thinking and movements
- Tiredness, loss of energy
- Low self-esteem, guilt
- Thoughts of death
Severe Symptoms of Depression
Any of the above mild symptoms of depression can occur as severe symptoms depending on the individual. When the depression symptoms become severe, they can be crippling and affect everything from personal care to work and home life.
Some of the severe symptoms of depression include:
- Inability to make decisions
- Obsessive thoughts of death or suicide, suicide plans or suicide attempt
- Persistent, unexplained physical pain such as headaches, digestive problems, or joint and muscle pain
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Difficulty in thinking and memory
Read more about the symptoms of depression in specific groups:
- How Symptoms of Depression Affect Women
- Important Depression Symptoms in Men
- Recognizing Symptoms of Depression in Teens and Children
Last Updated: 30 January 2018
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD