Clinical depression is more than feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.
Most people go through periods of feeling down. When you have clinical depression you feel sad for weeks or months, not just a few days.
A low mood may improve after a short time.
With the right treatment and support, most people with clinical depression can make a full recovery.
How to tell if you have clinical depression
Clinical depression affects people in different ways.
The symptoms of clinical depression can be complex and vary from person to person.
Generally, if you have clinical depression:
you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy
you have these symptoms for at least 2 weeks
the symptoms are serious enough to interfere with work, social life or family
There are many other symptoms of clinical depression and you're unlikely to have them all.
The psychological symptoms of clinical depression include:
continuous low mood or sadness
feeling hopeless and helpless
having low self-esteem
feeling worthless or guilty
feeling irritable and intolerant of others
having no motivation or interest in things
finding it difficult to make decisions
not getting any enjoyment out of life
feeling anxious or worried
having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
The physical symptoms of clinical depression include:
moving or speaking slower than usual
changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
unexplained aches and pains
lack of energy
low sex drive (loss of libido)
changes to your menstrual cycle
disturbed sleep – difficulty falling asleep, waking up early or sleeping more than usual
The social symptoms of clinical depression include:
not doing well at work
avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities
neglecting your hobbies and interests
having difficulties in your home and family life
Severity of clinical depression
Clinical depression often develops gradually. So it can be difficult to notice when something is wrong. You might try to cope with the symptoms without realising you're unwell. It can sometimes take a friend or family member to notice something is wrong.
The severity of clinical depression depends on how much impact it has on your daily life:
mild clinical depression – has some impact
moderate clinical depression – has a significant impact
severe clinical depression – almost impossible to get through daily life
You can have clinical depression and other mental health disorders. For example, anxiety, psychosis or other difficulties.
When to get help
See your GP if you have symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks.