Top 6 Things You Should Know About Depression

An estimated 300 million people around the world have depression. It's also estimated that 15 percent of the population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.

Yet, depression is often not discussed and many individuals with depression go without treatment. Whether you think you may be depressed or you know someone who might be, it's important to learn the basics of what it is and how it is treated. 

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

Depression can be diagnosed by a physician. Images

A physician or qualified mental health professional can diagnose depression based on your symptoms and your history. A treatment provider may provide you with a screening test to take, may ask you to complete a questionnaire or you may be interviewed. 

A treatment professional will rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms. If you have depression, the professional will determine which type of depression you have and make suggestions for treatment. 

What Are the Main Types of Depression?

Depression doesn't always fit into a neat category. Sometimes, individuals with depression have atypical symptoms or they may have features that don't quite meet the criteria but it still affects their daily lives.

The introduction of the DSM-5 includes several specific types of depression. Although there are several more types, here are four of the  types of depression: 

  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder - Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a diagnosis reserved for children between 6 and 18 years of age who show persistent irritability and frequent episodes of extremely out-of-control behavior. This new diagnosis was added to address concerns about the potential overdiagnosis and overtreatment of bipolar disorder in children.
  • Major Depressive Disorder - Major depressive disorder is characterized by feelings of pervasive sadness and a lost of interest in almost all activities. 
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (Formerly Dysthymia) - Persistent depressive disorder is a low grade, chronic depression that lasts at least two years (one year in children and adolescents). 
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder - Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a severe form of PMS. It causes mood swings that may interfere with work and it can affect relationships. Symptoms can include irritability, anger, extreme sadness, and hopelessness. 

How Is Depression Treated?

Depression can be very treatable but without intervention, symptoms may grow worse over time.

The most common treatment methods include talk therapy, medication, or a combination of both. 

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

Symptoms of depression vary slightly depending on the type of depression and the severity. Here are the most common symptoms individuals may experience:

  • Difficulty sleeping -  While some individuals with depression struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, others sleep too much. Sleep disruption can contribute to feelings of depression and depression can also interfere with sleep, which makes treating sleep problems a key area of treatment for depression. 
  • Trouble concentrating - Individuals with depression sometimes have difficulty sustaining their attention and they may struggle to make decisions. 
  • Recurring thoughts about death -  Individuals experiencing a major depressive episode may think about death often. They may have suicidal ideation and they may develop a plan to kill themselves. 
  • Changes in weight or appetite - Some individuals with depression may overeat while others lose their appetite. Individuals with major depressive disorder may experience a 5 percent change in weight without trying. 
  • Feelings of guilt - Excessive guilt and worthlessness can be a symptom of depression. 
  • Fatigue - Depression can cause constant exhaustion and extreme fatigue which may make it difficult for individuals with depression to complete activities of daily living. 


Is There a Screening Test for Depression?

Mental Health America offers a free online screening test for depression. While it's not meant to be a diagnostic tool, it can help you discover if you are at risk for depression. 

What Should I Do If I Think I'm Depressed?

If you suspect that you may be depressed, talk to your physician. Your physician will rule out any physical health conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms.

You may be referred to a mental health professional for further assessment. Your physician will discuss those options with you at your appointment. 


Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017.

"DSM-5:  Changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders."  Anxiety and Depression Association of America.  ADAA.  Accessed:  November 23, 2015.

Mental Health America: 2017 State of Mental Health in America – Report Overview Historical Data.