Depressed mood is not necessarily a psychiatric disorder. It is a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, and a side effect of some medical treatments.
However, you may be suffering from Depression if these symptoms cause distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of your life. You have to be careful that these symptoms aren’t a result of substance abuse or a physical illness.
People suffering from Depression may:
- feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, worried, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless.
- lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable;
- experience loss of appetite or overeating,
- have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions;
- may contemplate or attempt suicide.
- experience insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment
When will a Psychologist diagnose Major Depression?
When five (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and represent a change from your previous day to day functioning. At least one of the symptoms must be either “depressed mood” or “loss of interest or pleasure”.
1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either the person’s report (e.g., feels sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). Note: In children and adolescents, this can be observed as an irritable mood.
2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation made by others).
3) significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. Note: In children, consider the failure to make expected weight gains.
4) sleeping far too much or sleeping far too little nearly every day
5) feelings of restlessness or being slowed down (must be observable by others)
6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
8) diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by your own report or as observed by others)
9) recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
If you are recently bereaved, i.e. have lost a loved one, depression may not be diagnosed unless these symptoms persist for longer than 2 months.