The symptoms of depression

October 3rd, 2023

Torben Bergland, MD

Is depression simply a lot of sadness? Depression is much more than that. It’s also:

  • Tiredness

  • Self-doubt

  • Hopelessness

  • Guilt

  • Pessimism

  • Anger

  • Isolation

  • Anxiety

  • Emptiness

Depression is a heavy burden to carry. No one wants to be depressed. The one who has depression indeed suffers.

Feeling depressed for a few hours, or even a couple of days, does not mean one has depression. Depression lasts for weeks and months. For it to be defined as depression, it usually has to last for at least two weeks, with the symptoms being present most of the time.

The core symptoms of depression are:

  1. Depressed mood experienced as sadness, feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, irritability, or frequent crying,

  2. loss of interest and pleasure in things one used to enjoy

  3. reduced energy, tiredness, and fatigue leading to diminished activity, efficiency, and productivity

If someone has at least two of these three main symptoms for more than two weeks, then it may be depression.

Beyond these core symptoms, there are several other common symptoms of depression:

  • impaired attention and ability to concentrate, focus and make decisions

  • negative self-image with diminished self-esteem and self-confidence

  • excessive and inappropriate feelings of guilt 

  • lack of self-worth

  • pessimism about the future

  • sleep disturbances, such as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much

  • decreased or increased appetite

  • unintended weight loss or weight gain

  • recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Depression is not a state of mind that anyone wants to stay in. Fortunately, with time, appropriate support, and interventions, depression can be overcome.

In the next article, we’ll explore the causes of depression. is a project of Adventist Health Ministries.

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