Mnemonics for diagnosis of depression

Sept. 22, 2019. [Medical education] - Mnemonics are useful devices for learning and quick recall of knowledge generally.

In both medical education and mental health practice fields, three different mnemonics are available for medical students and mental health practitioners for learning and ready recall of the diagnostic symptoms of depression

1. “SIG - E – CAPS”: This mnemonic or acronym is commonly used to diagnose depression in the United States of America and represents:

  • S = Sleep changes; increase during day or decreased sleep at night
  • I  = Interest; loss of interest in activities that used to interest them
  • G = Guilt (worthless);  depressed elderly tend to devalue themselves


  • E = Energy (lack); common presenting symptom (fatigue)


  • C = Cognition/Concentration; reduced cognition &/or difficulty    concentrating
  • A = Appetite (wt. loss); usually declined, occasionally increased
  • P = Psychomotor; retardations (lethargic) or agitation (anxiety)
  • S = Suicide/death preoccupation

       Credit: SIG-E-CAPS” 


2. “C-GASP-DIE”. An acclaimed improvement on “SIG-E-CAPS” is the mnemonic or acronym “C-GASP-DIE” representing the following depression symptoms

  • C = Concentration difficulties or indecisiveness


  • G = Guilt or feeling worthless
  • A = Appetite abnormality or weight change
  • S = Sleep disturbance
  • P = Psychomotor retardation or agitation


  • D = Death of suicide (thought or act of)
  • I = Interest (diminished)
  • E= Energy (loss)

Credit: Abraham PF, Shirley ER. New mnemonic for depressive symptoms. Am J Psychiatry 2006; 163: 329-30


3. "DEPRESSION". A third and simple mnemonic consists of the 10 letters of the word depression and represent the 10 symptoms described in the 10th edition of the International Classification of Diseases:

  • D = Depressed mood
  • E = Energy loss/fatigue
  • P = Pleasure lost
  • R = Retardation or excitation
  • E = Eating changed—appetite/weight
  • S = Sleep changed
  • S = Suicidal thoughts
  • I = I'm a failure (loss of confidence)
  • O = Only me to blame (guilt)
  • N = No concentration

      Credit: Paul Blenkiron 



World Health Organization. The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders. Geneva: WHO, 1992: 119-131.


More mnemonic resources


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Updated: November. 6, 2022




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