Recognizing Depression

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

A depressed woman with ADHD 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 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.

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.

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