If you are clinically depressed you would have at least two of the following symptoms for at least 2 weeks:

  • An unusually sad mood that does not go away
  • Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Tiredness and lack of energy

As well, people who are depressed often have other symptoms such as:

  • Loss of confidence in themselves or poor self-esteem
  • Feeling guilty when they are not at fault
  • Wishing they were dead
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Moving more slowly or, sometimes becoming agitated and unable to settle
  • Having sleeping difficulties or, sometimes, sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in food or, sometimes eating too much. Changes in eating habits may lead to either loss of weight or putting on weight.

Not every person who is depressed has all these symptoms. People who are more severely depressed will have more symptoms than those who are mildly depressed. Here is a guide to severity of depression:

  • Mild depression: 4 of the 10 symptoms listed above over the past 2 weeks.
  • Moderate depression: 6 of the 10 symptoms of the past 2 weeks.
  • Severe depression: 8 of the 10 symptoms over the past 2 weeks.

Occasionally, depression is a sign of another illness or is caused by the side effects of medications. Your doctor will want to check out whether there are any other medical problems or pills that could be causing your depression.

If you think you might be depressed, you should seek help from your GP or other appropriate health professional.


World Health Organization. The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders. Geneva: World Health Organization, 1993