Depression Symptoms

A depressive disorder is a whole-body illness. It is not the same as being unhappy or in a blue mood. Nor is it a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better.

Depression affects the way a person eats and sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things. Depression symptoms can even include physical pain.

Common Depression Symptoms

Each individual may experience symptoms differently. Nearly everyone suffering from depression has ongoing feelings of sadness, and may feel helpless, hopeless, and irritable.

The American Psychiatric Association recommends professional help for those who have four or more of the following symptoms continually for more than two weeks:


  • Noticeable change of appetite, with either significant weight loss not attributable to dieting or weight gain
  • Noticeable change in sleeping patterns, such as fitful sleep, inability to sleep, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much

Energy Level

  • Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
  • Loss of interest and pleasure in activities
  • Restlessness, irritability


  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of inappropriate guilt
  • Melancholia (defined as overwhelming feelings of sadness and grief), accompanied by the following:
    • Waking at least two hours earlier than normal in the morning
    • Feeling more depressed in the morning
    • Moving significantly more slowly
    • Disturbed thinking - for example, severely depressed people sometimes have beliefs not based in reality about physical disease, sinfulness, or poverty
    • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain


  • Inability to concentrate or think, indecisiveness
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide, wishing to die, or attempting suicide (Note: Suicidal individuals should receive immediate treatment!)

Treatment for Depression Symptoms

Without treatment, depression symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression. During any one-year period, nearly 19 million American adults suffer from depressive illness. Yet, treatment can alleviate symptoms of depression in nearly 80 percent of cases.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a UT Southwestern mental health professional or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.