What is Clinical Depression?

Major depressive disorder (MDD), clinical depression, or simply depression, is a group of symptoms that occur together in time, and that can develop at any point in a person’s life.

There are nine symptoms that define depression:

  1. Feeling sad, blue, depressed, or down in the dumps
  2. Losing interest in most things you find enjoyable
  3. Sleeping too much, or sleeping too little compared to your usual self
  4. Eating too much, or eating too little compared to your usual self
  5. Moving or speaking less than you usually do, or the opposite: moving or speaking more than you usually do
  6. Having low energy, or feeling fatigued
  7. Having low self-esteem, thoughts that you’re worthless, or feeling guilty about things you may or may have not done
  8. Having trouble concentrating (e.g., while doing work), or having trouble making even simple day-to-day decisions (e.g., where or what to eat)
  9. Having thoughts of death or suicide, or thoughts that you may be better off dead

It is normal for most people to experience some or all these symptoms for a relatively brief period, or to experience milder versions of these symptoms. For some people, these symptoms resolve on their own.

However, if someone is experiencing at least five of these symptoms, with the experience at least one of the first two on the list, for two weeks or longer, and these symptoms are interfering significantly with work, school, or relationships, he or she may be experiencing depression.

People may experience one episode of depression, or two or more episodes (recurrent) in a lifetime. People may also experience conditions closely related to clinical depression, such as Persistent Depressive Disorder, formerly known as dysthymia, where less symptoms of depression are experienced, but over a long period of time (over 2 years).

If you think that you or someone you know might be experiencing these symptoms, click here to take a short, anonymous questionnaire to screen for depression.

The good news is that depression is treatable. Click here to learn more about how depression can be treated and how you can access resources.

References and further reading