Everyone has spells of feeling down, but depression is more than just spending a few days feeling sad or unhappy. Depression is when you feel persistently sad and down for weeks or months at a time.
Depression is a complex condition, and its cause is also complex. For some people, difficult life events and experiences might cause depression. For others, it could be relationship problems, bereavement, sleep problems, stress at work, bullying, chronic illness or pain.
In some cases, it’s possible to become depressed without there being an obvious reason. There may also be a genetic aspect to depression. If you have a parent or close relative who has experienced depression, there could be more of a chance that you’ll experience depression yourself.
Depression can affect people in many different ways – and can result in changes to your mind, body and behaviour. The Mental Health Foundation of Scotland describes the symptoms of depression as feeling:
Physical symptoms can include:
Behavioural changes might involve:
Some people may experience psychosis during a severe episode of depression. This means you may see or hear things that aren’t there or believe things that aren’t true.
Whatever the cause, if negative feelings don’t go away, are too much for you to cope with, or are stopping you from carrying on with your normal life, you may need to make some changes and get some extra support.
If you feel that your depression is mild or moderate, there are some good self-help techniques you could try at home. Mindfulness-based cognitive approaches and cognitive behavioural therapy have been shown through research to be effective, and the podcasts and video links below provide some further information about these.
NHS Inform offers the following suggestions for dealing with depression:
People with depression find it difficult to imagine that anything can help them – but the sooner you seek help, the sooner you will start to feel better. If you’ve been feeling low or depressed for more than a couple of weeks, see your GP.
You could also speak to someone anonymously by phoning a free helpline:
If you’re feeling distressed, in a state of despair or suicidal out with these hours, contact