Recognising depression

Signs and symptoms of depression

Feeling despondent or down is common and can be a normal reaction to the stress of our everyday lives. However, when these feelings are intense and persistent, this could be depression.

The signs and symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Loss or increase in appetite
  • Loss of emotional expression or flatness
  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood
  • Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
  • High levels of fatigue or lack of energy
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of concentration and increased forgetfulness
  • Crying or getting angry or upset for no clear reason
  • Procrastination to the point of being inert
  • Cutting yourself off from family and friends
  • Feeling anxious even about small things
  • Persistent physical problems that do not respond to treatment
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

If you have experienced some of these symptoms and they have lasted for more than a couple of weeks, then it is probably a good idea to get some help. Alternatively you might want to try depression.org.nz's online self-test.

Recognising depression in colleagues

Did you know…

  • 1 in 20 workers suffer from some type of depressive illness.
  • 75% of people try to hide their depression from others.
  • Early treatment means less time lost at work, increased productivity and the avoidance of costly consequences.
  • Over 80% of cases of depression can be treated quickly and effectively. 

What are the signs and symptoms that I should be looking out for?

  • Absenteeism, or presenteeism (being in the office but being non-productive).
  • Falling productivity and simple errors occurring.
  • Indecision.
  • Bad decisions or rash decision.
  • Poor morale and uncharacteristic lack of co-operation.
  • Complaints of aches and pains or tiredness on a regular basis.
  • Alcohol or drug use or abuse.
  • A general reluctance to socialise or participate in firm activities. 

Acknowledgement: We wish to extend our thanks to LawCare UK Ltd. Much of the material contained in this section is reproduced with the permission of LawCare UK, www.lawcare.org.uk.

Depression Checklist

Read the list below to ascertain if you or someone you know is affected by depression. (Source: Mental Health First Aid Manual, Orygen Research Centre, University of Melbourne 2008, page 10.) If you are able to tick more than one category, you may be depressed and it is highly recommended that you approach your medical practitioner for a thorough consultation.

If a person is clinically depressed they would have at least two of the following symptoms for at least two weeks. 

  • An unusually sad mood that does not go away
  • Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Lack of energy and tiredness

As well, people who are depressed have other symptoms such as:

  • Loss of confidence in themselves or poor self-esteem
  • Feeling guilty when they are not really at fault
  • Wishing they were dead
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Moving more slowly, or sometimes, becoming agitated and unable to sleep
  • Having sleeping difficulties, or sometimes, sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in food or, sometimes, eating too much. Changes in eating habits may lead to either weight loss or weight gain.