Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. Key signs and symptoms may include:

  • Depression that temporarily lifts in response to good news or positive events
  • Increased appetite that can cause weight gain
  • Increased desire to sleep, usually more than 10 hours a day
  • Heavy, leaden feeling in your arms or legs that lasts an hour or more in a day — a feeling that is different from fatigue
  • Sensitivity to rejection or criticism, which affects your relationships, social life or job

Other symptoms also may be part of atypical depression, such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Disordered eating, such as bulimia, bingeing or extreme food restrictions
  • Poor body image and fear of being fat
  • Headaches and other aches and pains

Some researchers are beginning to think of atypical depression as part of a larger subgroup of reactive depressive disorders — depression caused as a reaction to external events or circumstances.

Atypical depression may occur as a feature of major depression or of mild, long-lasting depression (dysthymia). Symptoms of atypical depression may overlap with other subtypes of depression, such as melancholic or anxious distress depression.

For some people, signs and symptoms of atypical depression can be severe, such as feeling suicidal or not being able to do basic day-to-day activities.

When to see a doctor

If you feel depressed, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as you can. Atypical depression may get worse if it isn't treated. If you're reluctant to seek treatment, talk to a friend or loved one, a health care professional, a faith leader, or someone else you trust.

When to get emergency help

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts:

  • Call your mental health specialist
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • Seek help from your primary doctor or other health care provider
  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one
  • Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community

If a loved one or friend is in danger of attempting suicide or has made an attempt:

  • Make sure someone stays with that person
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately
  • Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room
Sept. 17, 2015