Signs of Depression

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Signs of Depression

Leah McCabe

Written by Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

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.

January 21, 2020 / Read Time 4 minutes

Top 8 Signs of Depression

Knowing the signs of depression is one of the ways you can help yourself and those around you recognize the symptoms, seek treatment, and find happiness.

According to the WHO, “Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression.” 

As mental health becomes more mainstream, awareness of depression is on the rise.

However, despite a formal acceptance of depression as a mental disorder, those suffering often face undue criticism and barriers to receiving the treatment they need.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of depression, it pays to know what qualifies a person for this diagnosis.

Here, we’ll discuss the signs of depression as indicated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5).

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What Are the 8 Signs of Depression?

Sign of Depression: Depressed Mood

A depressed mood is a key sign of depression.

It’s characterized by sadness and despondency.

The change may come on suddenly or gradually occur over time.

According to the DSM-5, individuals should manifest a significantly lowered mood for at least 2 weeks to qualify for a diagnosis of clinical depression.

Sign of Depression: Loss of Interest

Another sign of depression is when a depressed individual becomes 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.

Sign of Depression: 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.

Read: Diet vs Exercise

Sign of Depression: Reduction of Thought and Activity

As though with a lack of motivation, depressed individuals will manifest a significant 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 is a noticeable sign of depression by the people closest to them.

Sign of Depression: 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 or shy away from exerting physical or social energy.

Sign of Depression: 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.

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Sign of Depression: Indecisiveness and Lack of Concentration

Another common sign of depression is 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.

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.

Sign of Depression: Suicidal Ideations

Suicide is a common and terrible end to a depressive episode, with over 800,000 people dying as a result of suicide caused by depression each year. 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 signs of depression listed here are not designed to be used as a diagnostic tool. 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.

Take our depression quiz here.

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    Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

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    Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Experiencing Signs of Depression? Here’s How to Get Depression Help

If you or a loved one would like to talk to a therapist, consider online therapy. PlushCare is proud to offer convenient, reliable, affordable virtual sessions where you can speak with a licensed therapist. Just click here to make your first appointment.

If our therapists believe you will benefit from medication, they may recommend you book an appointment with one of our trusted doctors. PlushCare offers convenient, reliable, and affordable virtual doctors appointments you can access from the comfort of your home. Together, our therapists and doctors will work together to ensure you get the help you deserve. 

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.

Read More About the Signs of Depression


World Health Organization. Depression. Accessed online on December 31, 2020 at Suicide Statistics and Facts. Accessed online on December 31, 2020 at

American Psychiatry Association. What is Depression? Accessed online on December 31, 2020 at

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. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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