Depression symptoms vary from one person to the next, and some people have symptoms that others do not have. However, there are some symptoms that are almost always present in cases of clinical depression. In fact, in order to be diagnosed with major depression, a person must have five of the following nine symptoms for at least two weeks.
· Depressed mood most days for most of the day
· Loss of interest in things that used to bring pleasure
· Weight loss or gain without trying to lose or gain weight
· Trouble sleeping
· Noticeable lethargy or restlessness
· Extreme fatigue or lack of energy
· Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
· Difficulty making decisions or focusing on tasks
· Thoughts of death or suicide
Major Depression versus Dysthymia
There are several types of depression. The most common types are major depression and dysthymia. Major depression involves severe and debilitating symptoms, while dysthymia is less severe but lasts much longer. Some people suffer from dysthymia for years or even decades before recognizing that they have a treatable medical condition.
Psychologists use a specific guide called the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version four) to diagnose clinical depression. A doctor make a diagnosis of dysthymia if a person has depression symptoms that last for two years or longer. In addition, a person with dysthymia will have two or more of the following symptoms and the symptoms will adversely affect the person's ability to work, socialize or function in general.
· Decreased or increased appetite
· Fatigue or low energy
· Sleeping too much or not enough
· Low self esteem or the belief that one is worthless
· Trouble focusing or concentrating
People with dysthymia often become very good at hiding their symptoms. Sometimes only those who are closest to the person will even know that the depression exists.
How Depression Affects the Body
Depression is a whole body condition. It does not just affect the mind and emotions. Many people visit doctors for physical problems that are, in fact, symptoms of depression. Such symptoms include headaches, backaches, upset stomach, and general aches and pains. Lack of energy and loss of libido are other common physical symptoms that may be related to an underlying depression. Doctors often treat these symptoms with pain killers, antacids or ED medications. The symptoms may go away for a while, masking the underlying problem, but depression almost always returns in one form or another. Sometimes it returns with entirely different physical symptoms, making it even more challenging to diagnose and treat the real problem.
Women and Depression
Women are a bit more likely than men to be diagnosed with clinical depression. There are a few reasons why this is the case. For one thing, women are usually more emotionally sensitive, so depression symptoms are more obvious in them. Men, on the other hand, may act out depression with anger, alcoholism or drug abuse or by working long hours in order to avoid their emotions.
Women may also become depressed after they give birth. This unique form of depression is known as postpartum depression. Its symptoms are similar to those of depression in general but may also include specific feelings about the woman's ability to bond with or care for her new baby.