Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. But true clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for an extended time. People with a depressive disease cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better.

Depression is melancholy, sadness or a mood of despair, lingering for a long time that limits a child’s ability to function normally. Sometimes a stressful life event triggers depression. Other times depression seems to occur spontaneously with no identifiable specific cause. Depression is much more than grieving or a bout of the blues. Depression may occur only once in a person’s life. Often, however, it occurs as repeated episodes over a lifetime, with periods free of depression in between. Or it may be a chronic condition, requiring ongoing treatment over a lifetime.

Depression is not grieving. Certain medical conditions or medications can cause depression or symptoms that look like depression. People suffering from depression often show distorted thinking. People of all ages and races suffer from depression. Depression is more common in adults than in children, but it does occur in children. When children are depressed, their symptoms might be different from adults. For example, rather than showing sadness or crying, some children behave badly or show a lot of anger. They may be more cranky than usual, become picky about food, or may show a lack of interest in their usual activities. Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (eg. driving fast or dangerously). Increased irritability and frustration. More sensitivity to minor personal criticisms.

Depression can cause or exacerbate many physical symptoms, including headaches, backaches, diarrhea or constipation, abdominal pain, and aching joints. Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional symptoms of depression, and so their mood disorder often goes unrecognized.

Depression may be indicated if an adolescent experiences an unusual degree of the symptoms. Most people will experience some of these symptoms from time to time, but in order for it to be considered major depression; you should be experiencing at least 5 of these symptoms, continuously, for at least 2 weeks. Inability to experience pleasure. Nothing seems to interest you anymore, including former hobbies, social activities. Sleeping too much or having problems sleeping can be a sign you’re depressed.

Waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep are typical. Changes in appetite (decreased appetite most common) often signaled by rapid weight gain or loss. “Keyed up,” unable to sit still, anxious, restless or sluggish, slow speech and body movements, lack of responsiveness. Low self esteem is common with depression. Depression can also cause a wide variety of physical complaints, such as gastrointestinal problems (indigestion, constipation or diarrhea), headache and backache. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.