Is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms which can range from feelings of sadness and hopelessness to losing interest in things you used to enjoy. Depression can affect people of any age, including children, and it is one of the most common mental illnesses. Depression is a long lasting low mood that affects your ability to do everyday things, feel pleasure, or take interest in activities.
- a mental illness that is recognised worldwide
- common. It affects about one in ten of us
- something that anyone can get
Depression is not:
- something you can ‘snap out of’
- a sign of weakness
- something that everyone experiences
- something that lasts forever
The symptoms of depression can include:
- low mood and feeling sad
- less energy and feeling less able to do things
- losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- loss of concentration
- becoming tired easily or constantly feeling tired
- sleeping less and/or poor quality sleep
- eating less
- feeling less good about yourself (loss of confidence)
- feeling guilty or worthless
- losing interest in sex
- various aches and pains
- thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and making suicide attempts
You do not have to have all of these to be diagnosed with depression – you might have just a few of them.
Depression is normally treated with medication, therapy or counselling. Nobody knows what causes depression. Family history, upbringing, stressful events and your lifestyle can all affect your risk.
If you feel low, try to get enough sleep and to eat well if you can. It is also important to try to keep active, even if you don’t feel like it.
Supporting the person you care for
If you want to support someone with depression, you might find it helpful to learn about symptoms, treatments and self-help techniques. This way you may be able to encourage your loved one to take the steps they need to get well. Below are some initial suggestions for providing practical day to day support:
- Offer them emotional support, patience, affection and encouragement. Remember that depression is an illness and people cannot “pull themselves together”.
- Invite them out on walks, outings, and gentle activities. Encourage them to take part in activities that once gave them pleasure. However, try not to put too much pressure on them as not feeling able to engage in activities they used to enjoy can be a source of further unhappiness.
- Help them feel good about themselves by praising daily achievements
- Encourage them to help themselves through self-help techniques and further treatment if appropriate
- Find out about self help or support groups in the area
For more information and a Depression factsheet visit: