A checklist of the most common symptoms of a major depression.
If your loved one suffers from a chronic illness, or even just the normal effects of aging, you can expect him or her to feel sad from time to time. However, you should be aware of the warning signs of a major depressive disorder that needs to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. A person with a major depressive disorder has a number of symptoms nearly every day, all day, for at least two weeks. These always include at least one of the following:
- Feeling sad, blue, or down in the dumps
- Loss of interest in things that he or she used to enjoy
- Feeling slowed down or restless
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Increase or decrease in appetite or weight
- Problems concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or feeling tired all the time
- Other aches and pains
- Digestive problems
- Sexual problems
- Feeling pessimistic or hopeless
- Being anxious or worried
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If your loved one shows symptoms of depression, especially thoughts of death or suicide, he or she needs professional help right away. Depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or both. Once the depression is properly treated, your loved one’s emotional condition should improve. If a major depression goes untreated, however, it can cause needless suffering and make your loved one’s situation even more difficult.
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Adapted from Recovering After a Stroke, AHCPR Publication No. 95-0664, prepared by the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research.