People with depression experience their symptoms in unique and individual ways that are very personal. This can not be overstated. People with depression often ruminate about personal shortcomings, weaknesses, things they feel they have done wrong, or that they are wrong in some fundamental ways. Self-criticism is almost always a core part of depression. That said, sometimes depression functions in other ways. It may be seated in significant experiences in the past, or it may be connected to patterns of relationships and engagement in the world that are not satisfying.  

Psychologists use a list of symptoms to help diagnose depression. These include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Depressed mood (feeling sad or empty)
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Weight loss or gain
  • A change in sleep habits
  • Feeling tired or slow, or feeling restless
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Difficulties making decisions
  • Thinking about death or dying, thinking about ending it all (If you or someone you know is in danger, then please seek immediate help through the emergency room or medical doctor.)

A person does not need to have all of these symptoms, but if they are significant enough to cause distress or loss of ability to work, live, or play, then it is time to seek treatment. These concerns are very treatable, with research suggesting psychotherapy as the first choice of treatment.