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Leah McCabe

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About Author — Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

Signs of Depression

More than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, according to a recent report released by the World Health Organization. As the most-common mental disorder, depression is becoming more and more understood on a global scale. But despite gaining validation and acceptance as a mental disorder, there are still barriers that prevent people from fully knowing what it means to be depressed.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of depression, then it pays to know what qualifies a person for this diagnosis. Discover the signs of depression as indicated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) to help take the first steps towards a complete recovery.

Depressed Mood

A depressed mood is one characterized by sadness and despondency. The change may be sudden in onset or gradual. According to the DSM-5, individuals should manifest a significantly lowered mood for at least 2 weeks to qualify for clinical depression.

Loss of Interest

A depressed individual will become much less interested in a variety of activities, especially those concerning self-care. In many cases, individuals with depression will choose to avoid many of their daily routines and activities, even when presented with opportunities they would otherwise enjoy.

Changes in Weight

A common sign of depression is an unexplainable change in weight. Most of those who are depressed will gain or lose significant amounts of weight even without dieting or without seeming to increase their food intake.

Reduction of Thought and Activity

As though with a lack of motivation, depressed individuals will manifest a significant, notable change in their activity and thought levels. Many will feel more comfortable in a state of idleness, choosing to stay unoccupied throughout the day. This will often be noticed by the people closest to them.

Excessive Fatigue

Certain chemical changes in the brain that occur in a depressed individual will manifest a loss of energy. This ties in with the lack of desire for activity and thought, as well as the lack of motivation for even the most basic self-care practices. For this reason, a person with depression might choose to sleep for extended periods throughout the day.

Inappropriate Guilt

A common theme in the thoughts and sentiments of an individual struggling with depression is guilt. They’ll often express a sense of worthlessness and shame, making them want to withdraw from those around them in an attempt to minimize the strong negative emotions. Keep in mind that the individual’s guilt will often lack any sort of basis or foundation, stemming from imagined concepts about the self, which often don’t actually apply.

Indecisiveness and Lack of Concentration

When presented with a task, a depressed individual will often struggle to see it through to completion due to a lack of concentration. Typically, you might notice their mind wandering off or their fatigue taking over, causing them to take notably frequent breaks from the task at hand. You’ll also notice that they might be unable to make a stern decision when faced with the necessity to make one.

Suicidal Ideations

Suicide is a common end to a depressive episode, with over 800,000 people dying as a result of suicide caused by depression. Many of those who fail their initial attempt, will attempt suicide a second or third time, depending on the kind of mental health care they receive.

The suicidal ideations that come with depression often circle around the concept of self worth. The inappropriate guilt that the individual feels towards the onset of the condition will soon evolve into feelings of complete worthlessness. This then fuels the desire to commit suicide, whether or not an actual plan has been formulated.


Bear in mind that the items listed here are not an accurate diagnostic measure. If you or someone you know might be suffering from depression, it would be best to seek the guidance of a medical professional. Major depressive disorder – like most medical conditions – is completely treatable.

If you’re hoping to get reliable information on depression and its signs, reach out to one of the doctors at PlushCare. Their online service lets you receive informed medical advice from trusted, board-licensed doctors so you can take the first steps towards a complete recovery. Book an appointment here.

If you or someone you know is thinking of committing suicide call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day.

PlushCare takes content accuracy seriously so we can be your trusted source of medical information. Most articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.D.s, NPs, or NDs. Click here to meet the healthcare professionals behind the blog.

Read More About the Signs of Depression

World Health Organization. Depression. Accessed online on August 12, 2019 at Depression Symptoms & Types. Accessed online on August 12, 2019 at

American Psychiatry Association. What is Depression? Accessed online on August 12, 2019 at

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