PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Depression: Signs and Symptoms

Recognizing clinical depression in yourself or in someone close to you isn't always easy. Everybody goes through periods of being sad, and most of the time we pull out of the sadness after a few days. When someone can't bounce back from a sad period, that's one possible sign of serious depression. There are many more symptoms like this to watch out for.

Take a look at the lists below. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, you should talk with a doctor, counselor, or psychologist if:

  • You've had 5 or more of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks.
  • Any of these symptoms cause such a big change that you can't keep up your usual routine.
  • Feeling sad all the time.
  • Feeling like you're empty inside.
  • Feeling worthless.
  • Feeling helpless.
  • Feeling that there's no hope, that nothing will work out right, or that when bad things happen, it's all your fault.
  • Feeling anxious or cranky all the time.
Physical Health
  • Feeling sluggish or low-energy.
  • Not wanting to eat, or wanting to eat all the time.
  • Having problems falling asleep or getting up in the morning.
  • Having frequent headaches.
  • Having stomach pains or lots of pains in other parts of the body.
  • Losing interest in school, sports, or other activities.
  • No longer enjoying favorite activities or hobbies.
  • Having more-than-usual trouble with family and friends.
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions.
  • Wanting to be alone most of the time.
  • Using drugs or alcohol.
  • Thinking about death or suicide.
Remember: having one or two of these symptoms once in a while doesn't mean that you or a friend is suffering from major depression. But if you or someone you know is having symptoms like these most of the time, and they're having a serious effect on life, then it's time to get help.

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