According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder can include depressed mood, diminished interest or pleasure in activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue or loss of energy, and indecisiveness.
Who hasn’t felt this way?
Interestingly, individuals who suffer from the symptoms of depression are often still able to function well in the world. The individual symptoms of depression, in and of themselves, may not be very different from feelings many of us frequently experience from time to time. For example, who hasn’t ever felt less hungry (or overeaten), hasn’t had difficulty sleeping (or slept too much), or hasn’t had difficulty concentrating? Who hasn’t ever felt fatigued or as if they lacked energy?
On the one hand…
This means it may be difficult to identify and easy to disregard these relatively common feelings (like irritability, and disinterest in things typically enjoyed), and to allow them to continue unchecked. The stealthy symptoms can be easily overlooked by untrained individuals, and incorrectly attributed to other things. The presence of depressed mood or the loss of interest/pleasure, combined with 4 or more other symptoms during the same two weeks, and clinically significant distress in important areas of functioning, can constitute a depressive disorder diagnosis. Depression can lead to a variety of physical and emotional problems and can negatively impact your ability to function at work and at home. The depression diagnosis should only be made by a licensed professional.
On the other hand…
Because depressive symptoms are relatively common, assessment tools are plentiful, and interventions have been well-researched, are evidence-based, and have been shown effective across multiple cultures and demographics. The large majority of individuals with depression have been shown to overcome it with proper diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect you may be experiencing the symptoms of depression, it is important to talk to a professional.