Having clinical depression is more than feeling temporarily unhappy with how things have been going on for you. If you want to know whether you are clinically depressed, this is the diagnostic criteria. It should include at least 5 of the following 9 symptoms present nearly every day (DSM-5, APA, 2013*):
- Depressed or irritable mood most of the day, nearly everyday;
- Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities;
- Significant change in weight or appetite (for some people, appetite might become much less than usual, while for others it might become much greater than usual);
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (again, some sleep a lot less than usual, others sleep a lot less than usual);
- Feeling restless or agitated or, conversely, experiencing slowness in speech or movements (the latter also known as psychomotor retardation);
- Fatigue or loss of energy;
- Feeling worthless or excessive or inappropriate guilt;
- Reduced ability to think or concentrate or difficulty in making decisions;
- Suicidal thoughts or wishes.
In addition, depression reduces the individual’s ability to function in social, occupational, or educational domains, or in other words, your ability to work, study or have fun can be severely impaired. The severity of depression is determined by both the number and severity of symptoms, but also the degree of functional impairment.
According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE, 2009**), psychological interventions, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, are recommended to treat depression.
*American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed). Arlington, VA: Americal Psychiatric Publishing.
** National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE, 2009). Depression: The treatment and measurement of depression in adults.