Description of Depression


Depression – also sometimes referred to as clinical depression, major depression illness or major depressive disorder – is a serious mental illness that affects more than 25 million men and women every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

More Than Just the Blues

Depression is more than just feeling blue or sad every once in a while. It also is more than the emotions that are felt when grieving the death of a loved one. According to NAMI, the definition of depression is:

Depression is a serious emotional and biological disease. Major depression may require long-term treatment to keep symptoms from returning just like any other chronic medical illness. Major depression is a mood state that goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad or blue. It is a serious medical illness that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health. Depression is a life-long condition in which periods of wellness alternate with recurrences of illness.

Diagnosing Depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (referred to as the DSM-IV), the diagnostic criteria for depression include the following, which need to last longer than two weeks:

  • • Depressed mood (feelings of sadness or emptiness)
  • • Reduced interest in activities that used to be enjoyed
  • • Change in appetite or weight (up or down)
  • • Sleep disturbances (either not being able to sleep well or sleeping too much)
  • • Feeling agitated or slowed down
  • • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • • Feeling worthless or excessive guilt
  • • Difficulty thinking and concentrating
  • • Trouble making decisions

The DSM-IV is the current reference or “go-to” guide for psychologists in order to accurately diagnose mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder or depression.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness


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