What Are the ICD-10 Criteria for Depression?

Doctor with checklist for depression

FG Trade / Getty Images

The ICD-10 is a medical coding system primarily designed by the World Health Organization (WHO). It includes mental and behavioral disorders but is not limited to psychiatric disorders. Medical professionals use it to diagnose patients. The ICD-10 criteria for depression are a set of symptoms and signs that indicate the presence of the disorder.

History of the ICD-10 Criteria for Depression

The ICD-10 criteria for depression were developed in 1990 by the World Health Organization (WHO). They are similar to those of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is used to diagnose mental disorders in the United States.

While the ICD-10 criteria for depression are similar to those in the DSM, there are some important differences. For example, the ICD-10 does not recognize premenstrual dysphoric disorder as a separate depression diagnosis, whereas the DSM does.

The ICD-10 criteria for depression are also used in many other countries besides the United States. In fact, they are used in most of the world.

ICD-10 Criteria for Depression

There are a number of items on the ICD-10 criteria for depression checklist. Below are some examples:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan for committing suicide

A diagnosis of depression requires that an individual has at least five of these symptoms for two weeks or more. Additionally, at least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Types of ICD-10 Criteria for Depression

There are multiple types of depression that can be coded using ICD-10 criteria. Below are two of the most common:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD): This is the more severe form of depression and requires a person to have at least five of the symptoms listed above for two weeks or more. Additionally, at least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.
  • Dysthymic Disorder: This is a less severe form of depression and requires a person to have the symptoms listed above for two years or more. Additionally, at least one of the symptoms must be either a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

How the ICD-10 Criteria for Depression Are Used

The ICD-10 criteria for depression are used in a number of ways. First, they are used to diagnose patients. Second, they are used to research the prevalence of depression and to study the course and outcome of the disorder. Finally, they are used to develop treatment plans and to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments.

Tips for Using the ICD-10 Criteria for Depression

If you are using the ICD-10 criteria for depression to diagnose a patient, it is important to remember that the criteria are just a starting point. In order to make a diagnosis, you will need to gather more information from the patient. This can be done through interviews, questionnaires, and other assessment tools.

It is also important to keep in mind that the ICD-10 criteria for depression are not perfect. They have some limitations. For example, they do not take into account all of the possible symptoms of depression. Additionally, they may misclassify some people who do not have the disorder.

If you are using the ICD-10 criteria for depression to research the prevalence of depression or to study the course and outcome of the disorder, it is important to be aware of these limitations.

Pitfalls of Using the ICD-10 Criteria for Depression

One of the pitfalls of using the ICD-10 criteria for depression is that they are not without limitations. As mentioned above, they may misclassify some people who do not have the disorder. Additionally, they do not take into account all of the possible manifestations of depression.

Another pitfall of using the ICD-10 criteria for depression is that they are based on self-report. This means that they rely on people's ability to accurately report their own symptoms. This can be a problem because people with depression may not be able to accurately report their symptoms.

A final pitfall of using the ICD-10 criteria for depression is that they are based on Western notions of mental illness. This means that they may not be applicable to people from other cultures.

Despite these pitfalls, the ICD-10 criteria for depression are still a useful tool. They can be used to diagnose patients, to research the prevalence of depression, and to study the course and outcome of the disorder.

Differences Between the ICD-10 and ICD-11 Criteria

ICD-10
  • A depression diagnosis requires 2 weeks of low mood.

ICD-11
  • A depression diagnosis does not require 2 weeks of low mood.

  • Includes new category "mixed anxiety and depression"

The ICD-11 was released on May 25, 2019, and includes some changes to the ICD-10 criteria for depression. The most notable change is that the ICD-11 no longer requires that a person has at least two weeks of depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in order to be diagnosed with depression.

Additionally, the ICD-11 includes a new category called “mixed anxiety and depression.” This category is for people who have symptoms of both anxiety and depression but who do not meet the criteria for either disorder.

A Word From Verywell

The ICD-10 criteria for depression are a useful tool, but they are not perfect. If you are using them to diagnose a patient, it is important to remember that they are just a starting point.

In order to make a diagnosis, you will need to gather more information from the patient. Additionally, keep in mind that the ICD-10 criteria for depression are based on Western notions of mental illness and may not be applicable to people from other cultures.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. International Classification of Diseases,Tenth Revision (ICD-10).

  2. World Health Organization. ICD-11: Classifying disease to map the way we live and die.

  3. AAPC. Coding for Major Depressive Disorder.

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."