What is moderately depressed

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

What is Moderate Depression: Symptoms and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 1/5/2022

Nearly 10 percent of adults (ages 18 and up) in the United States will suffer from a depressive episode each year , according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

And while you’ve probably heard of depression, did you know, according to the book, Depression in Adults with a Chronic Physical Health Problem: Treatment and Management, it’s sometimes broken up into depression scales — like mild depression, moderate and severe (also referred to as major)?

Mild and major depression may seem obvious enough — but what constitutes moderate? And are there different depressive symptoms for the different severities? Let’s dive in.

What Is Moderate Depression? 

Depression (also referred to as major depressive disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association) is a mental health condition that negatively affects the way you think, feel and act.

Often, mental health pros will categorize types of depression into three categories: 

  • Mild depression

  • Moderate depression

  • Severe depression

There are no strict depression scales or guidelines as to what constitutes mild, moderate or severe depression. 

Instead, a therapist or mental health provider will assess your depressed mood and other symptoms of depression you may have and determine if you have moderate depression (or one of the others). 

What determines the severity of depression (mild, moderate, or severe) is the frequency and severity of symptoms that a person experiences.

Symptoms of Moderate Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, common mental and physical symptoms of depression include:

  • Constant feelings of sadness, low mood, anxiety, hopelessness or pessimism 

  • Feelings o​f worthlessness, irritability, guilt or helplessness

  • Lack of energy and/or tiredness

  • Low self-esteem

  • Restlessness

  • Loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable

  • Changes in appetite and/or weight

  • Social isolation

  • Aches, pains or digestive issues without a clear cause

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm

No matter which depression symptoms you experience, the frequency and degree of the symptoms experienced is what will qualify your depression as mild, moderate, or severe.

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How is Moderate Depression Diagnosed?

Not all depressed patients experience every symptom. Symptoms may also fluctuate — meaning, you could notice certain ones sometimes, and others at different moments. 

To be diagnosed, depressive symptoms must persist for at least two weeks.

Clinical depression symptoms, and the severity in which you feel them, also goes into classifying if you have mild, moderate or severe depression. 

It’s worth noting that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not have any strict guidelines on how many symptoms a person must be dealing with in order to be deemed to have moderate depression. Instead, it is up to your healthcare provider to make that call. 

If you’re not familiar with it, the American Psychiatric Association says that the DSM-5 is a manual used by mental health professionals as a tool to help define and classify mental illnesses.

Because there are no strict guidelines on how to classify moderate depression, there’s no exact definition to give here on how a clinician may diagnose it. 

But it’s likely that a mental health professional will assess how deeply the depressive symptoms affect your day-to-day life and make the determination based on that. 

If your depressed mood doesn’t affect your life much, you may be diagnosed with mild depression. 

If they affect you on a daily basis, it could be moderate — and if you find yourself paralyzed by the symptoms, it could be severe. 

To learn more about the definition of depression, you can read our guide to Is Depression a Disease?

Treatment Options for Moderate Depression

If you suspect you may have moderate depression (or even mild depression or severe depression, really), you should contact a mental health professional. 

They will be able to assess your symptoms and give you a diagnosis. 

From there, they’ll work with you on treatment options. Here are some of the common ways to address depression. 

Talk Therapy

One treatment option you may be offered is talk therapy — specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). 

According to an article published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, CBT can be an effective way to treat moderate depression in depressed patients. 

If you participate in CBT as a means to treat your depression, you can expect to follow these steps: 

  • Work with your therapy provider to identify what’s going on in your life that needs help (ie, your depression) 

  • Set goals for what you’d like to see change

  • Work with your therapy provider to identify patterns and behaviors that are negatively affecting your life

  • Come up with ways to address and change those behaviors


Medication is another treatment option for moderate depression — specifically antidepressants. 

According to an article published in the journal, Current Biology, depression is caused by low levels of certain neurotransmitters in your brain (they’re what transmit information between neurons).  

Examples of neurotransmitters are serotonin (which regulates mood, amongst other things) and dopamine (which may help you feel motivated).

Antidepressants boost levels of certain neurotransmitters to help with depression. But they don’t work right away — it can take four to eight weeks before you may notice a difference in symptoms, according to the NIH.

Different types of antidepressants are used in the treatment of depression — including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and more, according to Mental Health America.

Bupropion (sold under the brand name Wellbutrin®) is also a common medication prescribed by health care professionals. 

It is called an atypical antidepressant because it doesn’t fall into one of the other categories. It is also used to treat seasonal affective disorder.

Before prescribing you medication for the treatment of depression, you may also be asked for a family history of depression and about other medical conditions you have. This will help a health care professional assess if a medication poses a potential risk factor. 

Lifestyle Changes

If you want to avoid medication, a more holistic approach to treating moderate depression is to make lifestyle changes. According to an article published in the journal, BMC Psychiatry, some changes to consider making today are: 

  • Maintaining a regular exercise schedule

  • Eating a healthy diet 

  • Get enough sleep 

  • Practice mindful meditation

  • Reduce consumption of alcohol/reduce the use of drugs or nicotine

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Understanding Moderate Depression 

Once the severity of depression is determined by an assessment of symptoms, your healthcare provider will talk to you about next steps. Chances are that means discussing treatment for depression. 

Two of the more common treatments for moderate depression are therapy and medication.  

If you don’t know where to find mental health help, speak to your primary care physician or schedule an online therapy appointment. 

10 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Berk, et al. (2014, April 10). Lifestyle Medicine for Depression. BMC psychiatry. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3998225/.
  2. Deshmukh, et al. (2020, January). Cognitive behavioral therapy for Depression. Indian journal of psychiatry. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7001356/.
  3. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM–5). DSM-5. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.psychiatry. org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm.
  4. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from http://repository.poltekkes-kaltim.ac.id/657/1/Diagnostic%20and%20statistical%20manual%20of%20mental%20disorders%20_%20DSM-5%20%28%20PDFDrive.com%20%29.pdf.
  5. Mental health disorder statistics. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/mental-health-disorder-statistics.
  6. Neurotransmitters: Current Biology. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.cell.com/current-biology/comments/S0960-9822(05)00208-3.
  7. Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2010). Depression in adults with a chronic physical health problem: Treatment and management. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK82926/.
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression.
  9. What is Depression? What is depression? (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.
  10. What meds treat depression? MHA Screening. (2021, November 22). Retrieved December 13, 2021, from https://screening.mhanational.org/content/what-meds-treat-depression/.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Types of depression - iFightDepression [EN]

There are different types of depression, which are different.

Signs and symptoms vary in number, time, severity and frequency, but are generally very similar. Because different types of depression are treated differently, it is important to pinpoint the type of depression. Depending on gender, age and cultural characteristics, people have different symptoms and severity of depression.

Neurotic, reactive (minor) depression is treated with psychotherapy. nine0003

Somatic and psychotic - medication. These terms are used by psychiatrists.

Studies have shown that depression has a phasic course. Periods of normal mood alternate with depressive episodes. Sometimes, instead of a depressive phase,

there may be a manic phase, which is manifested by irritability and high mood. If so, then it is not depression, but bipolar disorder (a more serious illness).

1. Depressive episode

The most common and typical form of depression is the depressive episode. An episode lasts from a few weeks to a year, but is always longer than 2 weeks. A single depressive episode is called a unipolar episode. Approximately one third of affected people experience only one episode, or "phase", during their lifetime. However, if a person does not receive appropriate treatment for depression, there is a risk of recurrent depressive episodes in the future. Depressive episodes always affect a person's performance to one degree or another. nine0003

2. Intermittent (recurrent) depressive disorder

When a depressive episode recurs, it is recurrent depressive disorder or major depressive disorder, which usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood. With this kind of depression, depressive phases, which can last from several months to several years, alternate with phases of normal mood. This type of depressive disorder can seriously affect performance and is unipolar in nature (no manic or hypomanic phase). This is the so-called "classic" or "clinical" depression. nine0003

3. Dysthymia

Dysthymia presents with milder and less severe symptoms than a depressive episode or recurrent depression. However, the disorder is permanent, with symptoms lasting much longer, at least 2 years, sometimes decades, which is why it is called "chronic depression". This disorder is unipolar and also affects performance. This type of depression sometimes develops into a more severe form (major depressive episode) and if this happens it is called double depression. nine0003

4. Bipolar depression, type I

This is the type of depression in bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive illness, and is less common than unipolar depression. It consists of alternating depressive phases, phases of normal mood and so-called manic phases.

Manic phases are characterized by excessively high mood associated with hyperactivity, anxiety, and decreased need for sleep.

Mania affects thinking, judgment and social behavior causing serious problems and difficulties. When a person is in a manic phase, he makes frequent casual unsafe sex, makes unwise financial decisions. After a manic episode, such people often experience depression. nine0003

The best way to describe these "emotional upheavals" is "to be on top of the world and fall into the depths of despair".

Symptoms of the phases of depression in bipolar disorder are sometimes difficult to distinguish from unipolar depression.

5. Bipolar depression type II

More like recurrent depressive disorder than bipolar disorder. In this disorder, multiple depressive phases alternate with phases of mania, but with less pronounced euphoria. During these phases, family and loved ones may even mistakenly assume that the person is doing well. nine0003

6. Mixed anxiety-depressive disorder

In anxiety-depressive disorder, the clinical picture is very similar to depression, however, in depression, depressive syndromes always come first. In this case, both anxious and depressive symptoms are evenly combined.

7. Depressive psychotic episode

A special form of depressive episode is psychotic or delusional depression. Psychosis is a condition in which people see or hear things that do not exist (hallucinations) and/or have false ideas or beliefs (delusions). There are various types of delusions such as self-accusation for no reason (delusion of guilt), financial ruin (delusions of poverty), feeling of an incomprehensible illness (hypochondriac delusions). People with delusional depression almost always require inpatient psychiatric treatment. Psychotic episodes can be either unipolar or bipolar. nine0003

8. Atypical depression

This type of depression is characterized by hypersensitivity and mood swings, overeating and drowsiness, panic attacks. This type of depression is mild and can be bipolar.

9. Seasonal depressive disorder

This type of depression is similar to atypical depression and comes on seasonally with climate change, usually in autumn or winter. Usually, when the season ends, people return to normal functioning again. nine0003

10. Brief depressive disorder

This is a milder variant of depression that more often affects young people and is characterized by short depressive episodes lasting less than 2 weeks.

Anxiety-depressive syndrome

  • Main
  • Diseases
  • Neurology
  • Anxiety-depressive syndrome

A disease caused by a violation of the normal content of neurotransmitters in the brain and which systemically affects the human body. nine0003

Anxiety-depressive symptoms can vary greatly in severity, ranging from a mild depression that does not cause the patient much anxiety to a severe generalized depressive disorder that can be fatal.

Depression is primarily a disease of the psycho-emotional sphere, but is accompanied by many bodily manifestations.

The symptom that is first associated with depression, namely a decrease in mood, in some cases can be subtle, which sometimes makes it difficult for the patient to understand that it is necessary to seek help. nine0003

Depression can only be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters and occur as a separate disease, but reactive depression is more common - caused by severe stress, loss, grief. The biochemical mechanism for the formation of depression joins the natural reaction to an emotional shock. At this point, it is worth contacting a specialist to remove the additional burden from the psyche.

Separately, it is worth remembering about postpartum depression, which affects more than 20% of women to varying degrees, depression that accompanies most chronic diseases. In rare cases, even children can be affected by depression. nine0003


  • Sustained (more than three weeks) depression of mood. Everything is seen by the patient in a bad light, what used to please and captivate no longer causes positive emotions.
    Not only the patient's life, but he himself appears in a pessimistic way, self-esteem decreases, self-accusation arises. With severe depression, thoughts of suicide arise.
    The patient and relatives need to understand that these are not the true thoughts of the patient, but only manifestations of the disease, and that after recovery, the patient will not agree with such pessimistic judgments. nine0090 Emotional disorders may be dominated by apathy (passivity, lack of desire) or, on the contrary, anxiety, fears, anxiety.
  • Decreased physical activity. The patient is lethargic, feels constant weakness and drowsiness, moves little. In severe depression, the patient can lie without changing position for days, not even getting up to eat or relieve himself.
  • Characterized by insomnia with early awakenings at dawn. During these hours, the feeling of longing is most severely felt by the patient. nine0066
  • Decreased appetite up to refusal of food. Constipation may occur.

There are variants when depression instead of classical symptoms is manifested by intermittent migrating pains, nausea or vomiting, dizziness and other bodily symptoms, simulating various diseases. This is called masked depression.


Major depression is a dangerous disease with a high risk of suicide. It is necessary to identify its onset in time and prevent deterioration by providing appropriate assistance. nine0003

Depressive syndrome can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or other specialist. The general physician is more likely to deal with depression as a concomitant disease in a patient, for example, recovering from a stroke.

If depression occurs in a relatively healthy person, it is better to consult a psychiatrist or psychologist. With the help of a conversation and special testing, you can quite accurately determine this diagnosis.


Therapy of depressive disorder rests on two bases: drug therapy with antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs and psychotherapy.

These two parts of treatment are not equal: psychotherapy is more strategically important and helps the patient to experience not only the symptoms of the disease, but also the causes and accompanying experiences that caused it. However, psychotherapy is a long process, and also a depressed patient does not have enough strength to go through this path. This is where medication comes in to help relieve the symptoms. It is important that almost all antidepressants must accumulate in the body and do not act immediately, but two to three weeks after the start of regular use. At this time, the doctor usually prescribes other drugs that relieve anxiety and alleviate the condition. nine0003

When faced with pure primary depression, the physician may not recommend psychotherapy, but limit himself to prescribing drugs if the depression is caused only by a disturbance of neurotransmitters without a primary emotional experience.

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