29/10/2014 11:55 GMT | Updated 29/12/2014 05:59 GMT

How Your Doctor Can Tell If You're Depressed

Have you ever walked into your Doctor's surgery with a sore foot and left with a prescription for anti-depressants? It's not uncommon to go for one thing and come away with a treatment for something completely different and, specifically, for depression.

My friend, a Junior Doctor, deduced through his four placements in GP surgeries that at least 50% of patients who walk in were depressed. This was comfirmed by a gentle but searching set of questions that the Doctor asked each person.

Symptoms of depression vary from one person to another but as general rule, if a patient is sad, feels hopeless and has lost interest in things that used to be important to him, for more than three weeks, then he is considered to be depressed.

But how depressed is depressed? Here's the list of symptoms the Doctor will look for to determine exactly how depressed you are:

Psychological depressive symptoms:

• continuous low mood or sadness

• feeling hopeless and helpless

• having low self-esteem

• feeling tearful

• feeling guilt-ridden

• feeling irritable and intolerant of others

• having no motivation or interest in things

• finding it difficult to make decisions

• not getting any enjoyment out of life

• anxiety

• having thoughts of self-harm

Physical depressive symptoms:

• moving or speaking more slowly than usual

• change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)

• constipation or stomach cramps

• unexplained aches and pains

• lack of energy or lack of interest in sex

• changes to your monthly cycle

• disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning)

Social depressive symptoms:

• not doing well at work

• taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends

• neglecting your hobbies and interests

• having difficulties in your home and family life

Doctors describe depression by how serious it is:

Mild depression has some impact on your daily life

Moderate depression has a significant impact on your daily life

Severe depression makes it almost impossible to get through daily life

And from there your doctor will prescribe, what he thinks is, the next best course of action.