Not everyone with depression experiences the same symptoms to the same degree. Sometimes the symptoms are mild, such as when a person experiences general malaise or unhappiness with no apparent cause that will not go away. In other cases the symptoms can be severe such as when a person feels so hopeless they can't even get out of bed in the morning. Officially, depression is characterized by the presence of the majority of the following symptoms nearly all day on most days for two or more weeks:
-- Persistent feelings of sadness or anxiousness.
-- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness.
-- Irritability or restlessness.
-- Loss of interest in normal activities.
-- Inability to enjoy normally-pleasurable activities, including sex.
-- Fatigue and decreased energy.
-- Difficulty focusing or concentrating, problems remembering details.
-- Problems sleeping, including insomnia or excessive sleeping.
-- Overeating, or loss appetite, with accompanying weigh gain or loss.
-- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts.
-- Unexplained aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems.
-- Crying for no apparent reason.
-- Difficulty making decisions.
-- Feeling fatigued or weak.
In young children, depression may be harder to identify. Common symptoms include frequent vague physical complaints such as headaches, body aches, stomachaches or tiredness, irritability, "moping around," social withdrawal, persistent fear of dying or that loved ones will abandon them, and changes in eating habits. In adolescents, common symptoms include sad mood, sleep disturbances, difficulty with relationships, feeling shunned or socially isolated, and substance abuse. Other symptoms in both children and teens; include unexplained anger, vocal outbursts, and failure to engage in or attend normal activities such as school, after-school activities or even playing with friends.
Continued on page 3: What causes depression?