The main symptom of depression is a sad, despairing mood that:
• is present most days and lasts most of the day
• lasts for more than two weeks
• impairs the person's performance at work, at school or in social relationships.
Other symptoms of depression may include:
• changes in appetite and weight
• sleep problems
• loss of interest in work, hobbies, people or sex
• withdrawal from family members and friends
• feeling useless, hopeless, excessively guilty, pessimistic or low self-esteem
• agitation or feeling slowed down
• trouble concentrating, remembering and making decisions
• crying easily, or feeling like crying but being not able to
• thoughts of suicide (which should always be taken seriously)
• a loss of touch with reality, hearing voices (hallucinations) or having strange ideas (delusions).
How does depression affect different populations?
Depression in women
Major depression can occur in 10 to 25 per cent of women – almost twice as many as men. Many hormonal factors may contribute to the increased rate of depression in women – particularly during times such as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy and postpartum, miscarriage, pre-menopause, and menopause.
Depression in men
Men with depression typically have a higher rate of feeling irritable, angry and discouraged. This can make it harder to recognize depression in men. The rate of completed suicide in men is four times that of women, though more women attempt it.
Depression in older adults
Some people have the mistaken idea that it is normal for older adults to feel depressed. Older adults often don't want to discuss feeling hopeless, sad, a loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities, or prolonged grief after a loss.
Depression in children
A child who is depressed may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent or worry that the parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative or grouchy, and feel misunderstood. Because normal behaviours vary from one childhood stage to another, it can be difficult to tell whether a child is just going through a temporary "phase" or has depression.