Symptoms of a
Major Depressive Episode
A major depressive episode is not a disorder in itself, but rather
is a description of part of a disorder, most often major
depressive disorder or bipolar disorder.
A person who suffers from a major depressive episode must either have a
depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities consistently
for at least a 2 week period. This mood must represent a change from
the person's normal mood; social, occupational, educational or other important
functioning must also be negatively impaired by the change in mood. A major
depressive episode is also characterized by the presence of 5 or more of these
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either
subjective report (e.g., feeling sad or empty) or observation made by others
(e.g., appears tearful). (In children and adolescents, this may be characterized
as an irritable mood.)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change
of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite
nearly every day.
- Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) nearly
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal
ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan
for committing suicide
A major depressive episode also is generally not diagnosed when the same symptoms
could be attributed to Bereavement (normal feelings
of sadness after the loss of a loved one).
By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on
11 Feb 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
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