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What Is Depression?

Major depressive disorder, also called clinical depression, is a common yet serious mood disorder. It is marked by persistent low mood accompanied by feelings of sadness and hopelessness as well as a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, these symptoms have to last longer than two weeks. Symptoms need to cause significant impairment in important areas of life such as at home or at work. Physical symptoms are often present alongside emotional ones and include chronic pain or gastrointestinal issues.

The Other Signs Of Depression

People with depression may also exhibit irritability and other behavioural issues not typically thought of as being related to those with the illness.

Some women become depressed before or after giving birth: Termed antenatal depression and postnatal depression.

Diagnosing Depression

According to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the psychiatric handbook, for a diagnosis of depression, an individual has to experience at least five of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:


  • A low mood, or depressed mood, for the majority of the day – almost every day
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in some or all activities one used to enjoy for most of the day – almost every day
  • Changes in weight (such as weight loss or weight gain) and changes in appetite (an increase or decrease)
  • Slowed thinking and moving that can be noticed by others around the individual
  • A lack of energy and pronounced fatigue almost every day
  • Feeling worthless and feeling overwhelming or inappropriate guilt
  • A decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions almost every day
  • Repeated and intrusive thoughts of death, suicidal ideation, a suicide attempt or a plan to die by suicide