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What are the Symptoms of Mild and Major Depression?

written by: Joy Lynskey • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 10/20/2010

Understanding the differences between the symptoms of mild and major depression can be difficult. Learn how to determine the differences here.

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    There are a few distinct differences between the symptoms of mild and major depression. The differences may be complex depending on the individual but commonly those with mild depression will seem to suffer from frequent unexplained bouts of sadness for short periods of time. For those who suffer from major depression, sadness is the more common characteristic interspersed with fleeting moments of happiness. However there are also some unexpected symptoms of depression to be aware of.

    Additionally, while the sufferers of mild depression may begin to see sleep pattern disorders as a physical manifestation of this mental illness, those who suffer from major depressions will likely have many more physical symptoms.

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    Symptoms of Mild Depression

    The symptoms of mild depression can vary among individuals. The symptoms can and often do result in diminished activity, creativity or even efficiency levels. Because those who suffer from mild depression can see their symptoms as harmless or meaningless it will often be others who notice the symptoms first.

    Signs and symptoms of mild depression can include:

    • Change in Personality/Charactersymptoms of mild and major depression 

    The sufferer will in general feel a sense of sadness, despair or even disinterest. There are bouts of unexplained crying, especially at things that are not normally triggers for the tears, such as television commercials.

    • Lack of Attention/Focus

    An individual suffering from a mild depression may find that they are unable to enjoy things that they may have greatly enjoyed before. Withdrawing from friendships or other close relationships is also common behavior for someone suffering with symptoms of mild depression. Loss of the ability to focus can make concentrating difficult and therefore can stall or halt some learning processes.

    • Lack of Self Confidence

    In someone who is suffering from symptoms of mild depression self confidence can fall fairly low. Those who suffer from depressions often consider themselves to be inadequate in some way, and are prone to feeling a distinct lack of self confidence that they may not have experienced previously.

    • Excessive Sleep or Insomnia

    An excess of sleep can be just as big a cause of concern as a lack of sleep common in those suffering from insomnia. Often those who are dealing with symptoms of mild may display strange or unusual sleeping patterns.

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    Symptoms of Major Depression

    The signs and symptoms of major depression tend to be much like those of mild depression; however they are likely to be more pronounced as well as present for much longer.

    Signs and symptoms of major depression can include:

    • Having a consistently depressed mood throughout the day on a regular daily basis.
    • Significant weight loss or weight gain
    • Insomnia
    • Feelings of worthlessness
    • Excessive and inappropriate guilt
    • Irritability
    • Inability to focus or concentrate
    • Fatigue
    • Reoccurring thoughts of death or suicide

    It is important to remember the genetic aspects of depression as well as the fact that there are significant and subtle similarities and differences in the symptoms of mild and major depression. It is always best to consult a medical professional who specializes in the mental health field when coping with or even helping others to cope with short term or long term symptoms of mild and major depression.