Mild, moderate, severe depression: what’s the difference? What to do to get out of it?

How is depression classified?

It’s common to feel down from time to time, but depression is a separate condition that needs to be treated with care. In addition to causing a general feeling of sadness, depression is known to cause feelings of hopelessness that just don’t seem to go away.

The term “depression” has become common in society at large. But depression is a more nuanced topic than popular usage might suggest. For one thing, not all cases of depression are the same. There are different classifications of depression, and each can affect your life in different ways.

Depression can be classified as follows:

  • – light
  • – moderate
  • – severe, also called “major”.

The exact classification is based on many factors. These include the types of symptoms you experience, their severity, and their frequency. Some types of depression can also cause a temporary spike in symptom severity.

Here are the different classifications of depression and how they can be treated.

What does mild depression look like?

Mild depression is not just a temporary depression. Your symptoms may last for several days and are noticeable enough to interfere with your usual activities.

Mild depression can cause:

  • irritability or anger
  • the despair
  • feelings of guilt and hopelessness
  • self-loathing
  • a loss of interest in activities you once did
  • difficulty concentrating at work
  • a lack of motivation
  • a sudden disinterest in socializing
  • aches and pains that don’t seem to have a direct cause
  • daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • insomnia
  • appetite changes
  • reckless behavior, such as alcohol and drug abuse, or gambling
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If your symptoms persist for most of the day, an average of four days a week for two years, you will most likely be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder. This condition is also called dysthymia.

Although mild depression is noticeable, it is the most difficult to diagnose. It’s easy to dismiss the symptoms and avoid telling your doctor.

How to overcome mild depression:

Despite the difficulties in diagnosis, mild depression is the easiest to treat. Certain lifestyle changes can help increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can help fight symptoms of depression.

Useful lifestyle changes include:

  • daily exercise
  • sticking to a sleep schedule
  • eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • practicing yoga or meditation
  • doing activities that reduce stress, such as keeping a journal, reading, or listening to music

Other treatments for mild depression include alternative remedies, such as St. John’s wort and melatonin supplements. EMDR therapy, mindfulness meditation, and a Mediterranean-style diet and regular physical activity can definitely help you turn the corner. Recurrent depression tends to respond better to lifestyle changes and forms of talk therapy, such as psychotherapy, than to medication.

Although medical treatment is not necessary, mild depression will not necessarily go away on its own. In fact, when left on its own, mild depression can evolve into more serious forms.

What does moderate depression feel like?

In terms of severity of symptoms, moderate depression is the higher level than mild cases. Moderate depression and mild depression have similar symptoms. In addition, moderate depression can cause:

  • self-esteem issues
  • reduced productivity
  • the feeling of uselessness
  • increased sensitivity
  • excessive worry
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The biggest difference is that the symptoms of moderate depression are severe enough to cause problems at home and at work. You may also experience significant difficulties in your social life.

Moderate depression is easier to diagnose than mild cases because the symptoms have a big impact on your daily life. The key to diagnosis, however, is to make sure you talk to your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing. Recommendations related to mild depression may also benefit moderate depression.

How does it feel to have severe (major) depression?

Severe (major) depression is classified as having the symptoms of mild to moderate depression, but the symptoms are severe and noticeable, even to your loved ones.

Episodes of major depression last an average of six months or more. Sometimes severe depression can go away after a while, but it can also recur in some people.

Diagnosis is particularly crucial in the case of severe depression, and it may even be time sensitive.

Major forms of depression can also cause:

  • delusions
  • feelings of bewilderment
  • hallucinations
  • suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Severe depression requires medical treatment as soon as possible.


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