Symptoms of major depression


The International Classification of Diseases – 10 (ICD-10), describes ten symptoms to look for in the diagnosis of depression, a major mental health disorder. These can be grouped into key and associated symptoms:

Key symptoms of depression:

  1. Persistent sadness or low mood
  2. Loss of interest or pleasure
  3. Low energy or fatigue

At least one of the above symptoms most be present most days, most of the time for at least 2 weeks. Also, if any of the key symptoms are present in a patient, ask about these seven associated symptoms:

Associated symptoms of depression::

  1. Disturbed sleep
  2. Poor concentration or indecisiveness
  3. Loss of confidence or expression of irrational beliefs
  4. Poor or increased appetite
  5. Suicidal thoughts or acts or delusions
  6. Agitation or slowing of movements
  7. Guilt or feeling worthless or self-blame

The ten symptoms are to be used to define the severity of depression and inform management of this major mental health disorder. They should be present for a month or more and every symptom should be present for most of every day


Depressive disorders include two main sub-categories:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Dysthymia
    • This is a persistent or chronic form of mild depression; the symptoms of dysthymia are similar to depressive episode, but tend to be less intense and last longer

Clssification of severity of depression

The severity of major depressive disorder can be classified asIt is very important shown below:

  • Not depressed – person with fewer than four symptoms.  
  • Mild depression - person with four symptoms (70% of cases). 
  • Moderate depression - person with five to six symptoms (20% of cases)
  • Severe/Major depression - person with seven or more symptoms (10% of cases).   

In view of the impact of this major mental health disorder, it is so very vital to recognize the symptoms of depression and be able to assist a sufferer in getting the best professional care they need very promptly.

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