What is Depression and it's symptoms

Just like a rash or heart disease, depression can take many forms. Definitions of depression and the therapies designed to ease this disease's grip continue to evolve. These shifts will continue to percolate through the field as more research flows in.

This special report addresses three main categories of depression:

  • major depression
  • dysthymia (a lasting, low-level depression)
  • bipolar disorder, previously called manic-depressive illness.

What are your symptoms?

Identifying your symptoms can be a useful first step toward gaining a deeper understanding of how depression, dysthymia, or bipolar disorder affects you. It may help you open a discussion with a doctor or therapist, too.

Be aware, however, that self-tests like this one cannot diagnose depression or any other mental illness. Even if they could, it's easy to dismiss or overlook symptoms in yourself. It may help to have a friend or relative go over this checklist with you. Also, remember that your feelings count far more than the number of check marks you make. If you think you are depressed or if you have other concerns or questions after taking this test, talk with your doctor or therapist.

Depression checklist

Start by checking off any symptoms of depression that you have had for two weeks or longer, or that you've noticed in the family member or friend you're concerned about. Focus on symptoms that have been present almost every day for most of the day. Then look at the key below. (The exception is the item regarding thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. A check mark warrants an immediate call to a doctor.)

  • I feel sad or irritable.

  • I have lost interest in activities I used to enjoy.

  • I'm eating much less than I usually do and have lost weight, or I'm eating much more than I usually do and have gained weight.

  • I am sleeping much less or more than I usually do.

  • I have no energy or feel tired much of the time.

  • I feel anxious and can't seem to sit still.

  • I feel guilty or worthless.

  • I have trouble concentrating or find it hard to make decisions.

  • I have recurring thoughts about death or suicide, I have a suicide plan, or I have tried to commit suicide.

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