Depression is a common experience that can affect people in many ways. Depression is different from a normal change in mood like feeling sad or “blue.” Depression requires evaluation if it:

  • Is more intense than the usual brief lows that accompany everyday life stress
  • Lasts for two weeks or more
  • Impairs a person’s ability to function at home, work, or school
  • Is accompanied by thoughts of death or suicide

Is this depression?

People with depression usually have more than one symptom. How many symptoms a person has, how long these symptoms last, and how much they affect a person are what makes depression different from a normal change in mood like feeling sad or “blue.”

Depression is defined by a range of symptoms that last two or more weeks, including:

  • Depressed mood—feeling sad, down, or blue
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in usual activities
  • Having trouble sleeping or sleeping more than normal
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Poor concentration and difficulty making everyday decisions
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Recurring feels of guilt or worthlessness
  • Physical and mental restlessness or being slowed down
  • Loss of hope and thoughts of death or suicide

In addition, depression is often accompanied by other symptoms such as nervousness or anxiety; irritability or being short-tempered; physical pain, such as headaches, muscle aches, or abdominal pain; or increased sensitivity to rejection or criticism. Problem drinking is also common in depression.

What to do

If these symptoms last for more than two weeks, and if they affect the ability to function at home, at work, or at school, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess whether the cause is depression. Many effective treatment options are available to treat depression as described in this website. You may receive treatment through participating in a research study, through your primary care provider, or through referral to a mental health professional.

If you or someone you know are thinking of suicide, seek help immediately. You can visit your local emergency room or contact one of the following hotlines:

  • Boston Emergency Services Team: 800-981-4357
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK)
  • Good Samaritan’s Hotline: 877-870-4673 (877-870-HOPE)
  • Treatment Advocacy Center: 800-784-2433 (800-Suicide)
  • The Trevor Helpline: 866-488-7386 (866-4-U-Trevor) for LGBT youth and young adults