More than simply feeling unhappy for a few days
Many people go through times where their mood is low and feel sad or miserable about life for a few days. People with depression,
however, experience these feelings for extended periods of time, i.e. weeks or months.
Depression is a genuine health condition that affects 1 in 4 of us over our lifetimes (Vivyan, 2015). It is not a sign of weakness or something you can simply "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together" (NHS, 2019a).
There are numerous different factors that make it more likely for someone to suffer from depression. These include genetics, upbringing or reactions to life events. Depression is often accompanied by other feelings such as anxiety, guilt and shame.
Thankfully, most people who suffer from depression end up making a full recovery, given the right treatment and support.
Types of depression
A depression diagnosis may be categorised as mild, moderate or severe depression. This categorisation is based on the impact
of your symptoms on your life, as well as the type of treatment you're being offered. It is possible for people to move between
mild, moderate and severe depression.
Additionally, there are also specific types of depression:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Depression that occurs at a particular time of year, or during a specific season.
Continuous mind depression lasting two years or more. Dysthymia is also called persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression.
Depression that occurs during pregnancy. Also sometimes referred to as antenatal depression.
Depression that occurs within a year of giving birth.
Symptoms of depression
There is a wide range of symptoms that people suffering from depression may experience. These symptoms can be highly complex
and different people will experience different symptoms. In general, depressed people feel sad, hopeless and lose interest
in things they used to enjoy, for extended periods of time (weeks, months or more).
If you're suffering from depression, you're unlikely to have all of the symptoms described below.
Some of the most common symptoms are:
- moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- changes in appetite or weight
- unexplained aches and pains
- lack of energy
- loss of libido
- disturbed sleep (e.g. finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning)
- continuous low mood or sadness
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- low self-esteem
- feeling tearful
- feeling guilt-ridden
- feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- lack of motivation or interest in things
- finding it difficult to make decisions
- not getting any enjoyment out of life
- feeling anxious or worried
- having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
- avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy
- difficulty remembering or concentrating on things
- losing interest in your hobbies
- feeling tired all the time
- being restless and agitated
- using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual
- self-harming or suicidal behaviour
If you're having suicidal thoughts, it's important to tell someone.
Help and support is available right now if you need it. You don't have to struggle with difficult feelings alone.
There are many helplines and text lines you can call or text. See this list from the NHS: help for suicidal thoughts .
You should also talk to someone you trust. Let your friends and family know about your situation as they may be able to offer support and keep you safe from harm. There's no right or wrong way to start this conversation with your loved ones - just having the conversation is the most important thing.
You can also call a GP and ask for an emergency appointment, call 111 out of hours or contact your mental health crisis team if you have one.
NHS, 2019a. Overview - Clinical depression. [online] nhs.uk. Available at:
NHS, 2019b. Symptoms - Clinical depression. [online] nhs.uk. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/symptoms/.
Mind, 2019. Symptoms - What are the symptoms of depression? [online] mind.org.uk. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/symptoms/.
Vivyan, C., 2015. Depression. [online] getselfhelp.co.uk. Available at: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/DepressionSelfHelp.pdf.
Did you know?
The symptoms of depression can be complex.
They are more than feeling down, and can include psychological, physical and social symptoms, which can often cause depressed people to lose interest in things they used to enjoy.
The symptoms of depression can get in the way of everyday activities and situations.