Know the Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Everyone feels down at times. The blues are a natural part of life. But an unhappy period that’s intense or lasts for more than a couple of weeks can be a sign of depression.  Depression is a serious illness. It is not a sign of weakness or a "character flaw," and it is not something you can "snap out of." In fact, most people with depression need treatment to get better. Depression can disrupt the lives of family and friends. If you know someone you think may be depressed, find out what you can do to help.

Woman with hand held to head, looking distressed. Man looking over her shoulder, looking concerned.

Recognizing signs of depression

People who are depressed may:

  • Feel unhappy, sad, blue, down, or miserable nearly every day

  • Feel helpless, hopeless, or worthless

  • Lose interest in hobbies, friends, and activities that used to give pleasure

  • Not sleep well or sleep too much

  • Gain or lose weight

  • Feel low on energy or constantly tired

  • Have a hard time concentrating or making decisions

  • Lose interest in sex

  • Have physical symptoms, such as stomachaches, headaches, or backaches

Know the serious signals

Never ignore a person's comments about suicide or behaviors that can lead to self-harm. Warning signals for suicide include:

  • Threats or talk of suicide

  • Statements such as “I won’t be a problem much longer” or “Nothing matters”

  • Giving away possessions or making a will or funeral arrangements

  • Buying a gun or other weapon

  • Sudden, unexplained cheerfulness or calm after a period of depression

If you notice any of these signs, get help right away. Call a healthcare professional, mental health clinic, or suicide hotline and ask what action to take. In an emergency, don’t hesitate to call the police.


  • National Institutes of Mental Health


  • National Alliance on Mental Illness


  • Mental Health America


  • National Suicide Hotline

    800-784-2433 (800-SUICIDE)

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

    800-273-8255 (800-273-TALK)