You are here: Home Emotional Well ... Depression 101 Depression: What ... Summary
Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


In general, depression is an ongoing sad mood or a loss of interest in activities that continues for an extended period of time such as a few weeks. (For more information about depression, see: What Is Depression?)

Depression can  show up as a combination of symptoms occurring together or as symptoms showing up separately over a period of time. Signs of depression include symptoms such as a persistent sad mood to changes in sleep patterns. If a list of the symptoms to look for doesn't help determine whether depression is present, there are simple tests (including online tests) to help determine if depression is present. .

Depression commonly occurs with other medical illnesses.

  • Both patients and caregivers are prone to depression. 
  • There are times when a depressive state is actually caused by a health condition and/or treatment - not just accompanying it.
  • For more information about the reality of depression during the journey after a diagnosis, click here.

If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms for a period of time such as two weeks, speak to your doctor about a thorough screening or evaluation for depression. He or she will be able to help you determine if you have depression and if treatment is warranted. Clinical depression is treatable with medications and other techniques.

The Reality Of Depression In People Living After A Diagnosis

While one in three adults in the general population may suffer from depression, the incidence of depression for people co-diagnosed with another serious medical condition can be as high as 33% -65%, depending on the condition. Depression can occur as a result of the diagnosis of another serious condition itself, or it may be a side effect of treatment or in some cases a biological result of a condition.

Too often depression is not recognized, or goes untreated. Symptoms such as loss of interest or memory, weight loss, sleep disturbance, and low energy related to depression may be mistaken for the symptoms of other conditions or side effects of treatments and/or drugs.

Depression is very treatable. It does not need to be a component of a diagnosis or caregiving. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of individuals diagnosed with depression respond to current treatments. For people co-diagnosed with another serious illness, studies have shown that treatment of the depression can have a significant impact on quality of life, the ability to follow a medical regimen, and in some cases, even disease progression.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a persistent sad mood or a loss of interest in activities that continues for an extended period of time such as a few weeks. Depression is like staying in the down cycle of a roller coaster. 

The key is the persistence of the mood, not the precise amount of time it continues.   

Depression is a "whole body" illness which can affect the following:

  • Mood, thought, body, and behavior.
  • Relationships that a person has with family, friends, and co-workers.
  • How a person thinks of himself or other people or things.
  • Sleep patterns.
  • Job performance.
  • Energy levels.
  • How much or how little a person eats.
  • The ability to enjoy activities that once provided pleasure.

Depression is not:

  • Just a passing blue mood or sadness.
  • The anxiety, anger, fear, shock, sense of uncertainty, withdrawal and/or upset that may follow the diagnosis of a serious health condition.
  • A sign of weakness.
  • Something that can be wished away or that someone can just "snap out of".

Depression can:

  • Occur in relatively severe episodes or it may be ongoing and less severe.
  • Only occur once in a person's lifetime, or it may occur several times.
  • Last for weeks, months or even years.

Signs Of Depression

Depression can show up as one symptom or as a combination of symptoms which occur together or separately over a period of time. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in things that used to make you happy, such as hobbies, work and even sex.
  • Feeling tired all the time including decreased energy, fatigue, and feeling "slowed down".
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.
  • Changes in sleep patterns such as insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain.
  • Crying a lot.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide as well as suicide attempts.
  • Restlessness, irritability.
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
  • Trouble paying attention.

Researchers are beginning to believe that depression may show different signs and symptoms in men and women. Current thinking is:

  • Women are more inclined than men to feel sad, weepy, worthless or guilty.  
  • Men are more inclined to get angry and irritable, feel an increasing loss of control over their lives, take greater risks, become more aggressive, and complain more about problems at work. Men also tend to have sexual problems (loss of interest, erectile difficulties) and/or sleep disturbances.

Tests For Depression

Mental Health America has a free online screening test for depression at: offsite link

Other tests for depression can be found at:

For military personnel and veterans, the following websites and telephone numbers provide free screenings for depression:

NOTE: Keep in mind that online depression screening tests are only a preliminary screening test for depressive symptoms. These tests do not replace in any way a formal psychiatric evaluation. The tests are only designed to give a preliminary idea about the presence of mild to moderate depressive symptoms that indicate the need for an evaluation by a mental health professional.