Case Study 1
At least one of two essential features of clinical depression must be present in order to suspect a diagnosis of major depressive disorder. One of these is depressed mood, and the other is a loss of interest or pleasure in activities. A mental health professional will evaluate whether a person has depressed mood in any of several ways. A person may simply state that he or she has been feeling sad, depressed, blue, empty, "down in the dumps," hopeless, etc. If a person denies such feelings, but either appears to be on the edge of tearfulness, shows a depressed facial expression and disposition, or appears to be overly irritable, then these may also indicate the presence of depressed mood. Children and adolescents may display mood that is cranky or irritable rather than mood that appears sad or despondent. This, of course, would be different than "spoiled child" behaviors.
Additionally, some people may be more likely to report physical complaints (i.e., aches, pains, headaches) rather than depressed mood. This may be because some people more easily recognize physical than emotional symptoms, they experience their mood in physical terms, or it may be more socially acceptable to report physical symptoms. Nevertheless, such physical symptoms can sometimes suggest the presence of depressed mood.
For the symptom to meet the criteria towards a diagnosis of major depression, a person must have had a depressed mood for most of the day, nearly every day for a two-week period of time.
Feelings of Hopelessness, Helplessness
Feelings of hopeless and/or helplessness are common in those who are clinically depressed. They are also some of the most frustrating feelings that depressed individuals experience. Research on the cognitive theory of depression has shown that people who are depressed struggle with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness more so than people who are not depressed (Sacco & Beck, 1995). A sense of...