Lack of pleasure in activities you usually enjoy, including sex
Remember that children may have different symptoms than adults. Watch for changes in school work, sleep, and behavior. If you wonder whether your child might be depressed, talk with your health care provider. Your provider can help you learn how to help your child with depression.
The main types of depression include:
Major depression -- It occurs when feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with daily life for weeks or longer periods of time.
Persistent depressive disorder -- This is a depressed mood that lasts 2 years. Over that length of time, you may have periods of major depression, with times when your symptoms are milder.
Other common forms of depression include:
Postpartum depression -- Many women feel somewhat down after having a baby. However, true postpartum depression is more severe and includes the symptoms of major depression.
Bipolar disorder occurs when depression alternates with mania (formerly called manic depression). Bipolar disorder has depression as one of its symptoms, but it is a different type of mental illness.
Depression often runs in families. This may be due to your genes, behaviors you learn at home, or your environment. Depression may be triggered by stressful or unhappy life events. Often, it is a combination of these things.
Many factors can bring on depression, including:
Alcohol or drug abuse
Medical conditions, such as cancer or long-term (chronic) pain
Stressful life events, such as job loss, divorce, or death of a spouse or other family member
Social isolation (a common cause of depression in older adults)
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call 911, a suicide hotline, or go to a nearby emergency room if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
Call your health care provider if:
You hear voices that are not there.
You cry often without cause.
Your depression has affected your work, school, or family life for longer than 2 weeks.
A family member or friend has asked you to cut back on drinking alcohol
You feel guilty about the amount of alcohol you drink
You drink alcohol first thing in the morning
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013.
American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. 3rd ed. October 2010. Available at: http://psychiatryonline.org/pb/assets/raw/sitewide/practice_guidelines/guidelines/mdd.pdf. Accessed: March 10, 2014.
Paul Ballas, DO, Attending Psychiatrist, Friends Hospital, Philadelphia PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.