What is depression?

A diagnosis of depression, according to the DSM-IV, is given to a person who may have; a permanent depressed mood, a significant loss of enjoyment or satisfaction in everyday activities. Symptoms of depression must have been persistent for a minimum of two weeks and must have a marked effect on a person's social and occupational activities.

External causes of a depressed mood such as that instigated by alcohol consumption, drug usage or caused by side effects of medication is not classed as a depressive disorder. Additionally, any medical history that includes episodes of mania or hypomania would not result in a clinical diagnosis of depression. Likewise, if the symptoms are better accounted for by a diagnosis besides depression, for example, bereavement, the individual wouldn't be regarded as depressed unless the symptoms persist for more than two months and include psychotic symptoms, morbid thoughts and marked functional impairment.