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The symptoms of depression may be hard to notice at first. They can be different from person to person, and you may confuse them with just feeling "off" or "down." You also may confuse the symptoms with another health problem.
The two most common symptoms of depression are:
A serious symptom of depression is thinking about death and suicide. If you or someone you care about talks about suicide or feeling hopeless, get help right away.
You also may:
Are you depressed?
If you have at least five of the above symptoms for 2 weeks or longer, and one of the symptoms is either sadness or loss of interest, you may have depression and may need treatment. If you have 2 to 4 symptoms for a period of at least 2 years (1 year for a child), you may have a long-term form of depression called dysthymic disorder (dysthymia).
Even if you have fewer symptoms, you may still be depressed and may benefit from treatment. No matter how many symptoms you have, it's important to see your doctor. The sooner you get treatment, the better your chance for a quick and full recovery.
It's possible to have periods of both energy and elation (mania) and depression. This may be bipolar disorder. If this happens to you, tell your doctor. The treatments for depression and bipolar disorder are different. For more information, see the topic Bipolar Disorder.
If you think you may have depression, take a short quiz to check your symptoms:
Symptoms can vary
Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe:
Depression can affect your physical health. You may have headaches or other aches and pains or have digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea. You may have trouble having sex or may lose interest in it. If you notice any of these changes, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to help.
Depression, PMS, and childbirth
Many women have mood changes before menstruation. This may be a sign of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But if your premenstrual mood changes and other PMS symptoms are making daily life hard or harming your relationships, you may have a type of depression known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). To learn more about this, see the topic Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
Women also may feel sad after having a baby. But if you feel very sad after you've had your baby, see your doctor. You may have postpartum depression. For more information, see the topic Postpartum Depression.
Symptoms in older adults
Symptoms of depression may be different for older adults. Depression can make older adults confused or forgetful or cause them to stop seeing friends and doing things. It can be confused with problems like dementia.
Symptoms in children and teens
Symptoms of depression in children and teens can be different from adult symptoms. These symptoms include doing poorly in school, having temper tantrums, and becoming sexually active. For more information, see the topic Depression in Children and Teens.
Warning signs of suicide
Thoughts of suicide are common in people who have depression. Most people do not act on these thoughts, but they must be taken seriously.
The warning signs of suicide include giving away things, talking about suicide, or suddenly using lots of alcohol or drugs.
Warning signs of suicide in children and teens may include running away from home or doing risky or dangerous things, such as driving drunk or abusing drugs. If you see warning signs in yourself or a loved one, get help.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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