Depression – What are the Signs?

According to the DSM-V (the diagnostic manual for mental health disorders), Major Depressive Disorder (or depression) is characterized by five or more of the following symptoms, present during a two week period:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, described either by the person themselves or someone close to them.
  • Marked diminished interest in or the ability to derived pleasure from all or most all activities of the person’s typical day.
  • Significant weight loss or gain (i.e., more than 5% of body weight) or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping nearly every day.
  • Psychomotor “agitation or retardation” nearly every day, observable by others (i.e., trouble handling things with smooth/flowing motion, dropping things, shakiness, feeling slowed down or as if one is moving “in slow motion”).
  • Fatigue or feeling a loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive/inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Indecisiveness or inability to think/concentrate nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, suicide (with or without a plan), taking uncharacteristic, life-threatening risks or suicide attempts.

A depressed mood or lack of interest/ability to experience pleasure must be one of the five symptoms in the person. Further, these symptoms interfere with the person meeting their social, occupational or other important obligations. And, these symptoms are not attributed to a consumed substance or other medical or psychological condition.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, (encourage them to) seek help….from a doctor, psychiatrist or mental health therapist. Depression is a condition that gradually deteriorates the person’s level of functioning to its minimal level. It’s like having a computer but never allowing it to load updates. Gradually, it becomes VERY slow and barely functional.