This article is from the Depression FAQ, by Cynthia Frazier with numerous contributions by others.
A depressive disorder is a "whole-body" illness, involving your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. A depressive disorder is not a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help over 80% of those who suffer from depression. Bipolar depression includes periods of high or mania. Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every symptom. Some people experience a few symptoms, some many. Also, severity of symptoms varies with individuals.
Symptoms of Depression:
* Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
* Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
* Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed, including sex
* Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
* Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
* Decreased energy. fatigue, being "slowed down"
* Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
* Restlessness, irritability
* Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
* Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
Symptoms of Mania:
* Inappropriate elation
* Inappropriate irritability
* Severe insomnia
* Grandiose notions
* Increased talking
* Disconnected and racing thoughts
* Increased sexual desire
* Markedly increased energy
* Poor judgment
* Inappropriate social behavior