The symptoms ofÂ depression can be complex and vary widely between people. But as a general rule, if you areÂ depressed, you feel sad, hopeless andÂ lose interest in things you used to enjoy.
The symptoms persist for weeks or months and are bad enough toÂ interfere with your work, social life and family life.
There are many other symptoms ofÂ depression andÂ you're unlikely to have everyÂ one listed below.
Psychological symptoms include:
- continuous low mood or sadness
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- having low self-esteemÂ
- feeling tearful
- feeling guilt-ridden
- feeling irritable and intolerant of othersÂ
- having noÂ motivationÂ or interest in things
- finding it difficult toÂ make decisions
- not getting anyÂ enjoyment out of life
- feeling anxious or worriedÂ
- havingÂ suicidal thoughts or thoughts ofÂ harming yourself
Physical symptoms include:
- moving or speaking more slowly than usualÂ
- change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)Â
- unexplained aches and pains
- lack of energy or lack of interest in sex (loss of libido)
- changes to yourÂ menstrual cycle
- disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at nightÂ or wakingÂ up veryÂ early in the morning)
Social symptoms include:
- notÂ doing well at work
- taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends
- neglecting yourÂ hobbies and interests
- having difficulties in your home and family life
Depression canÂ come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong.Â Many people continue toÂ try to cope with their symptoms without realising they are ill. It can take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.
Doctors describeÂ depression by how serious it is:
- mild depression has some impact on your daily life
- moderate depression has a significant impact on your daily life
- severe depression makes it almost impossible toÂ get through daily life ‐Â a few people with severe depression may have psychotic symptoms
Grief andÂ depression
It can be hard to distinguish between grief andÂ depression.Â They share many of the same characteristics, but there are important differences between them.
Grief is an entirely natural response to a loss, whileÂ depression is an illness.
People who are grieving find their feelings of loss and sadness come and go, but they're still able to enjoy things and look forward to the future.
In contrast, people who areÂ depressed have a constant feeling of sadness. They don't enjoy anything andÂ find it hard to beÂ positive about the future.
Read more about grief and how it differs from depression.
Other types of depression
There are different types of depression, and some conditions where depression may beÂ one of theÂ symptoms. These include:
- Postnatal depression. Some women develop depression after having a baby. Postnatal depression is treated in similar ways to other forms of depression, with talking therapies and antidepressant medicines.
- Bipolar disorder is also known as "manic depression". It's where there are spells of depressionÂ and excessively high mood (mania). The depression symptoms are similar to clinical depression, but theÂ bouts of mania can include harmful behaviour such as gambling, going on spending sprees and having unsafe sex.Â
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Also known as "winter depression", SAD is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern usually related to winter.
Read more aboutÂ diagnosing depression.