Depression is a real but often misunderstood mental disorder that can be readily treated with both medications and psychotherapy. Sometimes you may think you or a loved one has clinical depression, but aren’t really sure what sets it apart from someone who’s just feeling blue sometimes.

Feeling blue, unloved, or hopeless sometimes is a normal part of the human experience. There’s nothing wrong with you for feeling that way from time to time, especially in reaction to specific events in your life — like a death in the family, a romantic breakup, a poor grade, or losing a promotion at work. That’s not depression.

Depression often comes about for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It can hit someone when they’re just living their lives, doing nothing particularly special, and suddenly can’t function. Nothing seems to matter. The black hole they find themselves in just grows larger and larger every day, and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. The severity of symptoms varies with individuals and also varies over time.

10 Signs of Depression

Here are ten common signs of clinical depression:

  1. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  2. Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  3. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  4. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  5. Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”
  6. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  7. Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  8. Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  9. Thoughts of death or suicide or actual suicide attempts
  10. Restlessness or irritability

Some people may also experience certain persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.

A person who suffers from a major depressive disorder (sometimes also referred to as clinical depression or major depression) 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.

Clinical depression impacts every aspect of a person’s life. It generally doesn’t go away on its own, and it’s not the person’s fault. Depression feels like hopeless with no end, pain without relief.

Treatment helps relieve depressive symptoms and tends to help end a depressive episode more quickly than if left untreated. If you feel like you or a loved meets most of the above symptoms, you may want to take depression screening quiz to see if you meet the diagnostic criteria for depression.

Learn more about depression here.