Everyone feels down at times, but depression is a magnification of that feeling – both in the depth of feeling and in its persistence. There is cause for concern if symptoms persist for more than two consecutive weeks.

Symptoms of depression are typically those of under-arousal, and include feeling:

  • unmotivated, sad, hopeless, and empty (in children and adolescents, this can present as increased irritability);
  • tearfulness;
  • loss of interest, or reduced feelings of pleasure;
  • reduced self-esteem and self-confidence;
  • significant changes in appetite and weight;
  • disturbed sleep;
  • fatigue;
  • reduced energy and activity;
  • an increased attitude of pessimism;
  • feelings of worthlessness and irrational guilt;
  • indecisiveness and a reduced ability to concentrate;
  • reduced libido; and
  • thoughts of self-harm and/or death.

Major depressive episodes can be quite serious, and can significantly disrupt social, occupational, or other important aspects of life.

Depression generally responds well to a variety of Cognitive Therapies. Severe major depression may also require the use of an antidepressant medication (prescribed by your doctor). Some specific aspects of the depressive experience (such as reduced self-esteem, behavioural inertia, insomnia, etc.) may also respond well to other psychological interventions (like Psycho-Education, Behaviour Therapy, etc.).

General information only; not specific personal advice. Do not make decision based solely on information on this website. See a health professional for advice about your specific problems. Symptom lists are based primarily on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition diagnostic criteria (by the American Psychiatric Association, 2013).