18 doctors weighed in:

How can you tell the difference between clinical depression, and being stressed out?

18 doctors weighed in
Aaron Stupple
General Practice
13 doctors agree

In brief: A few warning signs

Clinical depression has 5 or more of the following, daily, for most of the day, for 2 or more weeks: depressed mood, no interest in previously enjoyable acts, lack of/excessive sleep, excessive guilt/worthlessness, decreased energy, decreased concentration, decreased/increased appetite, agitation or its opposite-slowing, thoughts of deat/suicide.
It must include depressed mood or loss of interest.

In brief: A few warning signs

Clinical depression has 5 or more of the following, daily, for most of the day, for 2 or more weeks: depressed mood, no interest in previously enjoyable acts, lack of/excessive sleep, excessive guilt/worthlessness, decreased energy, decreased concentration, decreased/increased appetite, agitation or its opposite-slowing, thoughts of deat/suicide.
It must include depressed mood or loss of interest.
Aaron Stupple
Aaron Stupple
Answer assisted by Aaron Stupple, Medical Student
Thank
Emily Lu
Family Medicine
8 doctors agree

In brief: Duration & severity

Clinical depression is distinguished from just feeling sad in that a) it's been going on continuously for at least two weeks and b) it is interfering with normal functioning in at least two ways, e.
g. Depressed mood nearly all day, loss of appetite, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, insomnia or excess sleep, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, impaired concentration, etc.

In brief: Duration & severity

Clinical depression is distinguished from just feeling sad in that a) it's been going on continuously for at least two weeks and b) it is interfering with normal functioning in at least two ways, e.
g. Depressed mood nearly all day, loss of appetite, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, insomnia or excess sleep, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, impaired concentration, etc.
Emily Lu
Emily Lu
Answer assisted by Emily Lu, Medical Student
Thank
Jin Packard
Emergency Medicine
6 doctors agree

In brief: Several things:

Normal stress is caused by external events, and stops when those issues are resolved.
Clinical depression more entrenched than that. Seen in clinical depression but not in stress: anhedonia (loss of interest in pleasure/fun), feeling worthless, loss of energy/focus. Sometimes sleep disturbances, GI problems, social withdrawal, decline in personal hygiene, unexplained aches/pains.

In brief: Several things:

Normal stress is caused by external events, and stops when those issues are resolved.
Clinical depression more entrenched than that. Seen in clinical depression but not in stress: anhedonia (loss of interest in pleasure/fun), feeling worthless, loss of energy/focus. Sometimes sleep disturbances, GI problems, social withdrawal, decline in personal hygiene, unexplained aches/pains.
Jin Packard
Jin Packard
Answer assisted by Jin Packard, Medical Student
Thank
Marianne DiNapoli
Obstetrics & Gynecology
4 doctors agree

In brief: Five symptoms

A diagnosis of major depression requires you either have 1) depressed mood, or 2) loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
In addition, you must have 4 of the following symptoms: change in sleep, change in appetite/weight, feeling guilty/worthless, low energy, difficulty concentrating, moving more slowly than usual, or suicidal thoughts. Symptoms must last 2 weeks and occur daily.

In brief: Five symptoms

A diagnosis of major depression requires you either have 1) depressed mood, or 2) loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
In addition, you must have 4 of the following symptoms: change in sleep, change in appetite/weight, feeling guilty/worthless, low energy, difficulty concentrating, moving more slowly than usual, or suicidal thoughts. Symptoms must last 2 weeks and occur daily.
Marianne DiNapoli
Marianne DiNapoli
Answer assisted by Marianne Di Napoli, Medical Student
Thank
Dr. George Valdez
Family Medicine
2 doctors agree

In brief: Subtle

If you are having mroe bad days than good, are unable to face stresses with the same ability, dont enjoy the things that you usually enjoy, feel guilty about things you shouldnt, have sleep changes, less energy, sadness, feel stressed when stressful things arent going on, you may need help.
Start by exercising every day 15 min fast for 2 weeks (if healthy), see dr if not improving.

In brief: Subtle

If you are having mroe bad days than good, are unable to face stresses with the same ability, dont enjoy the things that you usually enjoy, feel guilty about things you shouldnt, have sleep changes, less energy, sadness, feel stressed when stressful things arent going on, you may need help.
Start by exercising every day 15 min fast for 2 weeks (if healthy), see dr if not improving.
Dr. George Valdez
Dr. George Valdez
Thank
Get help from a real doctor now
Dr. Bennett Machanic
Board Certified, Neurology
48 years in practice
55M people helped
Continue
108,000 doctors available
Read more answers from doctors