While we all feel sad, moody, or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (e.g., weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it's a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health.

Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

The symptoms that help a mental health professional identify depression include:

  • constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension
  • decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies
  • loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity
  • a change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain
  • a change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • restlessness or feeling slowed down
  • decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate
  • feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • thoughts of suicide or death

Should You Seek Professional Help?

Depression is treatable. A mental health professional should be consulted if you experience:

  • Pain or problems that outweigh pleasures much of the time;
  • Symptoms so severe and persistent that day-to-day functioning is impaired; and/or
  • Stress that is so overwhelming that suicide seems to be a viable option.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): Depression, Beyond Blue: Depression

More Information

For more information about depression and other mental health issues, visit the following websites.