Depression is a chronic (long-term) condition that affects how you feel, think and act. Depression symptoms can affect all aspects of your life, as well as affecting your family, friends and colleagues.
Depression is a common condition which affects one in 10 people. Depression can happen to anyone, at any age. More women are diagnosed with depression than men, although this may be because women are more likely to seek help.
Some personality traits, such as low self-esteem, can make you vulnerable to depression. You’re also more likely to be depressed if:
Depression affects everyone differently, with signs of depression varying from feeling low (mild depression) to suicidal thoughts (severe depression). Other types of depression include:
Depression can be successfully treated, often with a combination of self-help, talking therapy or counselling and anti-depressant medication.
There are many different signs of depression. The most common depression symptoms include:
If you’ve had several depression symptoms every day for over two weeks, see your GP. If you’re feeling suicidal, seek medical help immediately, or call an organisation such as The Samaritans.
There’s no physical depression test. Instead, your GP will ask about your general health and your depression symptoms and how they’re affecting you.
To rule out conditions with similar symptoms, such as an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), your GP may test your blood and urine.
Depression can be caused by many different factors, including:
Your GP will recommend treatment according to your depression symptoms and the kind of depression you’ve been diagnosed with. This may involve referring you to a psychiatrist for specialist treatment.
Your treatment may involve:
If you have severe depression that’s failed to respond to treatment, your psychiatrist may recommend electro-convulsive therapy (ECT).