How to Tell If You’re Clinically Depressed

“Depressed” is a term that can be overused and misconstrued.  And to be honest, many people really aren’t sure what it means.  And like most things, it’s not always black and white!  In therapy, we use very specific diagnostic criteria to properly diagnose clients based on all of their symptoms (if and when this applies).  Sometimes, diagnoses are wordy and difficult to understand.  Although I’m a therapist, I like to make it easy for people to understand what clinically they may be feeling, without over-complicating it!

That said, here are the three things you want to look for to know whether you are clinically depressed:

  1. A combination of five or more of these symptoms: depressed mood for most of the day, almost every day, less interest in things you once found pleasurable, weight changes, sleep changes, psychomotor agitation,  less energy or fatigue, excessive feelings of worthlessness or guilt, diminished ability to focus, recurrent thoughts of death or dying.
  2. These symptoms are causing you significant impairment at work, socially, or in other important areas of your life.
  3. The symptoms are not due to a medical condition, a different disorder, or use of alcohol or drugs.

To be clinically depressed, you feel much worse than just “down in the dumps”.  People tend to overuse the phrase “I’m so depressed!”.

Similar symptoms can also set in within a few months of a very significant change or stresses in your life, which means you may also meet these criteria but it would be called an adjustment disorder instead of “major depressive disorder.”  More detail about the differences can be discussed with your mental health professional.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms in your life, getting, maintaining or improving your relationship can be extremely difficult.  Therapy can help you feel better!  Don’t hesitate to make an appointment today!