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What are depression's symptoms?

Not everyone who is depressed experiences all symptoms. The severity of symptoms varies between individuals and also depends on the type of depression. There are many shared symptoms, however, but with varying degrees of severity.

23 June 2016

Depression can come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. Many people continue to try to cope with their symptoms without realising they are ill. It can take a friend or family member to notice the symptoms and suggest something is wrong.

Clinical depression (also known as major depressive disorder, or MDD) symptoms include:

  • Disturbed sleep
  • Persistent sad or empty feelings
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Reduced or enhanced appetite
  • Fluctuating energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

These symptoms interfere with usual behaviour and functioning and can be debilitating.

Dysthymia symptoms have many similarities to major depressive disorder (MDD), or clinical depression, but are less severe and interfere less with immediate day-to-day functioning. 

They are, however, chronic and may continue for years so that the sufferer seldom feels really happy and cannot enjoy life. 

Dysthymia’s symptoms may include:

  • Insomnia 
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Changes in appetite
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

Bipolar disorder symptoms include:

Extreme mood swings, which range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). These episodes of mania and depression can often last for several weeks or months.

If you have bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of depression more regularly than episodes of mania, or vice versa. Depression symptoms may be similar to those of MDD or Dysthymia. 

Mania symptoms include:

  • Feeling very happy or euphoric
  • Talking very fast
  • Being full of energy
  • Grandiose complex
  • Easily distracted
  • Easily irritated or agitated
  • Delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • Irrational behaviour 
  • Spending large sums of money on expensive items
  • Indulging in risky or harmful behaviour

In addition to psychological or mental symptoms, there are also physical symptoms of depression. These may include:

  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual 
  • Change in appetite or weight 
  • Constipation 
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Loss of libido
  • Changes to your menstrual cycle
  • Disturbed sleep 
Read More: Depression Super Section