Depression Symptoms

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: Dennis Lee, MD

Depression is a very common condition that is believed by many experts to be the number one cause of disability in the world. In the U.S., 17% of people will experience depression at some point in their lives. An estimated 19 million people in the U.S. are currently suffering from depression. Depression is more common in women then in men, with 25% of women suffering from depression severe enough to warrant treatment at least once during their lifetime.

It's important to remember that depression is an illness that affects both the body and mind. It is not something that we can just wish away or "snap out of," nor is it a sign of a weak character. The good news about depression is that almost everyone suffering from this condition can be helped with treatment, so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the main symptoms and signs of depression are the following:

  • persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
  • feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • restlessness, irritability
  • persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain

If you have been experiencing several of these symptoms to a degree that they have impaired or affected your life, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find out whether or not you are suffering from depression and direct you to appropriate resources for treatment and recovery.

Reference: NIH Publication No. 07-3561, 2007.


Last Editorial Review: 2/1/2008