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Depression is a common mental illness. But what are the characteristics of depression? Here you read about common depressive symptoms.

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The diagnostic manual used in Norway is ICD-10, which is published by the World Health Organization. In this it is written the following about a depressive episode (depression) F32:

In typically mild, moderate or severe depressive episodes, the patient suffers from lowered mood swings (depression), decreased energy and activity level. The ability to enjoy, feel interest and concentration is impaired, and a pronounced fatigue and tiredness is common even after the slightest exertion. Usually sleep is disturbed and appetite is reduced.

Self-esteem and self-confidence are almost always weakened, and even in the mild form, notions of guilt and worthlessness are often present. The lowered mood changes little from day to day, does not vary with the circumstances and may be accompanied by so-called "somatic" (melancholyform) symptoms, such as loss of interest and feelings of pleasure, waking up in the morning several hours earlier than usual, depression that is heaviest in the morning, pronounced psychomotor retardation, restlessness, loss of appetite, weight loss and loss of sexual drive.

Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode may be specified as mild, moderate or severe.


Symptoms of depression

In other words, the following can be summarized about the symptoms of depression:


  1. Lowered mood (negative mood). Sadness.
  2. Lower energy. Feeling of being tired and exhausted, even after minor efforts.
  3. Reduced activity level.
  4. Impaired ability to enjoy and feel interest. What the person was previously interested in and which previously gave joy, no longer arouses any interest or joy.
  5. Problems with sleep.
  6. Less appetite and therefore often also weight loss.
  7. Loss of sexual drive.
  8. Poor self-esteem and self-confidence.
  9. Guilt.
  10. Feeling worthless.
  11. Restlessness and anxiety.

However, it is not necessary that all of these symptoms be present. Usually, only some of these symptoms are present in the person who is depressed (see next section), but where the symptoms still create a clearly impaired function in everyday life and a weakened quality of life.

In some cases, the opposite symptoms of what is mentioned above are also present at the same time, for example that you have increased appetite instead of impaired appetite, or you may sleep a lot as opposed to having problems falling asleep.


Degrees of depression

A depressive episode (depression) can come in varying degrees, from mild, to moderate, and to severe. This does not mean that a mild depression is something to joke about, it can certainly be more than heavy enough for the person affected. ICD-10 mentions the following subtypes / degrees of depression: 


  1. Mild depressive episode

    Two or three of the symptoms mentioned under F32.- are usually present. The patient is usually concerned about these, but will probably be able to continue with most activities.

  2. Moderately depressed episode

    Four or more of the symptoms mentioned above are usually present, and it is likely that the patient will have great difficulty continuing with ordinary activities.

  3. Severe depressive episode without psychotic symptoms

    Episode of depression where many of the symptoms mentioned above are marked and troublesome, usually loss of self-esteem and notions of worthlessness or guilt. Suicidal thoughts and actions are common, and somatic symptoms are usually present.

There are also several subtypes of depression, which are not covered in this article.


Screening / investigation of symptoms of depression

It is the professional health services that can assess whether you have a depression or not. Often the GP is the first person to take a screening or examination of whether you may have a depression, and in many cases the doctor refers the patient on to treatment in the specialist health service if you have a depression.

The following tests are often used as a screening tool iin the doctor's or another professional's examinations:



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