What is Depression

Depression is a common condition that leaves us having a low mood for most of the day, nearly every day, or a loss of pleasure in the things we would usually take pleasure in, for a period of at least two consecutive weeks. To meet the diagnostic criteria for depression, there will be present at least five of the following symptoms: 

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  • A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. 

The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition.

Video reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-IR48Mb3W0&t=49s


Types of depression

There are different types of depresion, including Major Depressive Disorder (described above), Major depressive disorder with melancholia (which is usually severe, including feelings of despondency, despair, feeling ‘empty’, early morning wakening, slowing down of movement or restlessness. and significant weight loss), Psychotic Depression (which incluydes delusions, hallucinations, and feelings of paranoia), Persistent Depressive Disorder, or ‘Dysthymia’ (with less severe depression symptoms being present for more than two years), and Perinatal depression (depression that occurs during pregnancy or after the birth of a baby). 

Biopolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder experience extreme highs and lows. In a high (manic) state, people may behave in an over-excited or reckless way. Everything speeds up – their thoughts, speech and movements – and they may have difficulty focusing on tasks or feel frustrated and irritable. The symptoms of a low or depressed state are the same as those for people experiencing depression. These include feeling low or sad, withdrawing from friends and family, and losing interest in previously enjoyable activities.

Recognising a manic state:
Increased energy, irritability, overactivity, increased spending, increased sex drive, racing thoughts, rapid speech, decreased sleep, grandiose ideas, hallucinations and/or delusions.

Recognising a depressed state:
Low mood, irritability, loss or change of appetite, lack of motivation, low self-esteem, sleep disturbance, suicidal thoughts, difficulty managing small tasks or making simple decisions​.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

  • Bipolar 1 disorder: involves depressive and manic episodes
  • Bipolar 2 disorder: involves depressive and ‘hypomanic’ episodes (which are less extreme manic episodes than those present in Bipolar 1)
  • Cyclothymic disorder: for at least two years, there are multiple periods of hypomanic symptoms that do not meet all the formal criteria for hypomania or major depression
© Spencer Street Psychology 2021
All rights reserved