Depression can take many forms.

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  • Major depression: You feel constantly sad or burdened, or you lose interest in all activities, even those you previously enjoyed. This holds true nearly all day, on most days, and lasts at least two weeks. During this time, you also experience at least four of the following signs of depression:

    • A change in appetite that sometimes leads to weight loss or gain
    • Insomnia or (less often) oversleeping
    • A slowdown in talking and performing tasks or, conversely, restlessness and an inability to sit still
    • Loss of energy or feeling tired much of the time
    • Problems concentrating or making decisions
    • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive, inappropriate guilt
    • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide plans or attempts.

      Other signs can include a loss of sexual desire, pessimistic or hopeless feelings, anxiety, and physical symptoms such as headaches, unexplained aches and pains, or digestive problems.

  • What is dysthymia: It refers to a low-level drone of depression that lasts for at least two years in adults or one year in children and teens. While not as crippling as major depression, its persistent hold can keep you from feeling good and can intrude upon your work, school, and social life. Unlike major depression, in which relatively short episodes may be separated by considerable spans of time, dysthymia lasts for an average of at least five years.

    If you suffer from dysthymia, more often than not you feel depressed during most of the day. You may carry out daily responsibilities, but much of the zest is gone from your life. Your depressed mood doesn’t lift for more than two months at a time, and you also have at least two of the following symptoms:

    • Overeating or loss of appetite
    • Insomnia or sleeping too much
    • Tiredness or lack of energy
    • Low self–esteem
    • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
    • Hopelessness.

      Sometimes an episode of major depression occurs on top of dysthymia; this is known as double depression.

  • What is bipolar disorder? It includes one or more episodes of mania, characterized by high mood, grandiose thoughts, and erratic behavior. It also often includes episodes of depression. You would also experience at least three of the following symptoms:

    • Grandiose ideas or pumped–up self–esteem
    • Far less need for sleep than normal
    • An urgent desire to talk
    • Racing thoughts and distractibility
    • Increased activity that may be directed to accomplishing a goal or expressed as agitation
    • A pleasure–seeking urge that might get funneled into sexual sprees, overspending, or a variety of schemes, often with disastrous consequences.