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Psychotherapy - Information for Patients

How do I determine the severity of depression?

Your physician or psychologist distinguishes episodes of major depressive disorder in mild, moderate or severe depression. This distinction is important, because the choice of treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms.  For the determination of the severity of the depressive episode the physician or psychologist asses the main symptoms and secondary symptoms of depression:

Main symptoms of depression

There are three main symptoms of depression:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest, lack of pleasure
  • Lack of drive, increased fatigability

Secondary symptoms

The seven secondary symptoms of depression include:

  • Decreased concentration and attention span
  • Low self-esteem and self confidence
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Negative and pessimistic thoughts about the future
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite

Severity of depression

For the determination of the severity of the depressive episode there is assessed how many main symptoms and secondary symptoms have occurred over a period of more than two weeks.

    2 main symptoms and 2 secondary symptoms: mild depression.

    2 main symptoms and 3-4 secondary symptoms: moderate depression.

    3 main symptoms and more than 4 secondary symptoms: severe depression.

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© Sandra Elze, M.D. & Michael Elze, M.D.
Prien am Chiemsee / Rosenheim,
Last updated: 02-09-2015

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