A person is diagnosed as having depressive disorder if he is suffering from any five or more of the following common symptoms.
- mood swings
- loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- change in appetite or weight
- difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
- physical slowing or agitation
- energy loss
- feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- difficulty thinking or concentrating
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Severe depression often occurs between ages 15 to 30 years; however, it can also appear in children Some people have a chronic but less severe form of depression, called dysthymic disorder, which is diagnosed when depressed mood persists for at least 2 years (1 year in children) and is accompanied by at least 2 other symptoms of depression.
People with dysthymia develop major depression symptoms.
Episodes of depression also occur in people with bipolar disorder In this disorder, symptoms of depression includes depression alternating with mania, which is characterized by abnormally and persistently elevated mood or irritability and depression symptoms including overly-inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, physical agitation, and excessive risk taking.
Without treatment, symptoms of depression can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression to get over their depression symptoms.
Severe mood swings like phases of high mood followed by sadness, then back to high or irritable mood with some phases of normal moods. Added to this are changes in the person's behavior and energy level. These mood swings are commonly called as episodes of depression or mania.
Unlike main health related problems, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder cannot be done physiologically i.e. with regular blood or urine tests. It is usually done by monitoring the depression symptoms narrated by the patient or family members along with the history of the family.
The most severe depression symptoms in patients with depressive and manic-depressive illnesses is suicidal tendencies, which is the main cause for deaths among patients with the mortality rate being higher than it is for most types of heart disease and many types of cancer.
The chances of them having risk of suicide is more in initial phases of the disorder which makes it even more important to be diagnosed at an earlier stage.