Recognizing Depression

Depression impacts 17 million Americans. Here are the most common symptoms.

A woman with depression symptoms stares out a rainy window.
A depressed woman with ADHD stares out a rainy window

Depression is marked by feelings of sadness or emptiness for much of the day, nearly every day. Other depression symptoms include:

  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Change in appetite-usually a decline, but sometimes an increase
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping more than usual
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or inadequacy
  • Difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Unexplained aches and pains

If you’ve had one or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer, consult a doctor or mental-health professional. If you’re thinking about suicide, or if you feel so bad that you can’t work or are avoiding people, seek help as soon as possible.

Don’t struggle with dark moods on your own. Being around positive people is an enormous help. Reach out to friends — especially those who make you feel good about yourself.

[Self-Test: Could it be Depression?]

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is most effective when you work with a therapist, but there are some good self-help books on the topic. Dr. Tsukahara recommends Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think, by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky, and Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, by David Burns.