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Depressive disorders are common, yet underdiagnosed and undertreated, mental health conditions characterized by a sad, low, or irritable mood that affects an individual’s capacity to function. Depression is frequently a recurrent disorder and individuals with depression are at increased risk of suicide. Service members returning from combat deployments are at increased risk for developing depression.

Depressive disorders are diagnosed when a persistent low mood and an absence of positive affect are accompanied by a range of symptoms, such as:

  • loss of interest in most activities
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • significant change in weight or appetite
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • decreased concentration
  • inappropriate guilt or feelings of worthlessness
  • psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • suicidal ideation

Major depression is diagnosed based on the number of symptoms a person experiences and the length of time symptoms persist. Women are diagnosed with depression more often than men. Explore depression gender differences in these resources:

The VA/DOD Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Major Depressive Disorder provides guidance relating to screening for depressive disorders and recommended treatment options. Providers should also stay apprised of the latest DOD policy guidance on depression. PHCoE has created depression clinical support tools for providers, patients, and families based on the guidance in the clinical practice guideline.

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Depression in Men


This infographic for patients and families describes rates of depression, unique symptoms, and related mental health conditions in men.

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Depression in Women


This infographic for patients and families describes the warning signs, related mental health conditions, and factors that contribute to women's risk of depression.

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Last Updated: July 01, 2022

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