Faces of Depression

Problem

Depression isn’t a one-size-fits-all illness. Just like a rash or heart disease, depression can take many forms. As you’ll see, there’s a cluster of symptoms that are typically present, but one person’s experience of depression often differs from another’s. Definitions of depression — and the therapies designed to ease this disease’s grip — also continue to evolve.

What is major depression?

Major depression may make you feel as though work, school, relationships, and other aspects of your life have been derailed or put on hold indefinitely. You feel constantly sad or burdened, or you lose interest in all activities, even those you previously enjoyed. This holds true nearly all day, on most days, and lasts at least two weeks. During this time, you also experience at least four of the following signs of depression:

a change in appetite that sometimes leads to weight loss or gain
insomnia or (less often) oversleeping
a slowdown in talking and performing tasks or, conversely, restlessness and an inability to sit still
loss of energy or feeling tired much of the time
problems concentrating or making decisions
feelings of worthlessness or excessive, inappropriate guilt
thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide plans or attempts.

Other signs can include a loss of sexual desire, pessimistic or hopeless feelings, anxiety, and physical symptoms such as headaches, unexplained aches and pains, or digestive problems.

www.health.harvard.edu