Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved. Behavioral Health Center of Illinois  Privacy policy


What is depression?

Most people feel sad or depressed at times. It’s a normal reaction to loss or life's struggles.

But when intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless -- lasts for many days to weeks and keeps you from living your life, it may be something more than sadness. You could have clinical depression -- a treatable medical condition.

How Do I Know If I Have Depression?

According to the DSM-5, a manual doctors use to diagnose mental disorders, you have depression when you have five or more of these symptoms for at least 2 weeks:

While these symptoms are common, not everyone with depression will have the same ones. How severe they are, how often they happen, and how long they last can vary.

Your symptoms may also happen in patterns. For example, depression may come with a change in seasons (a condition formerly called seasonal affective disorder).

Can Depression Have Physical Symptoms?

It's not uncommon for people with depression to have physical signs of the condition. They may include joint pain, back pain, digestive problems, sleep trouble, and appetite changes. You might have slowed speech and movements, too. The reason is that brain chemicals linked to depression, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, play a role in both mood and pain.

Is Childhood Depression Common?

Childhood depression is different from the normal "blues" and everyday emotions most kids feel. If your child is sad, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has depression. It's when the sadness stays with him day after day that depression may be an issue. Or, if your child has disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life, that may also be signs of a problem.

Depression in Teens

A lot of teens feel unhappy or moody. However, when the sadness lasts for more than 2 weeks and a teen has other symptoms of depression, then he may have a problem. Talk to your doctor and find out if your teen may be depressed. There is effective treatment that can help teens move beyond depression as they grow older.

Are There Different Types of Depression?

There are a few types of depressive disorders that doctors can diagnose, including:

Your depression may have other specific features, such as:

What Illnesses Happen With Depression?

It’s common for people to have other medical or mental health problems along with depression, such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobias, and eating disorders. If you or a loved one has symptoms of depression or another mental illness, talk to your doctor. Treatments can help.

What Are the Warning Signs of Suicide?

Warning signs include:

Watch for these signs if your child or teen starts taking antidepressants. In some cases, people under 25 may have more suicidal thoughts in the first weeks of taking these medicines or when they take a different dose.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on September 21, 2017