What is depression?

Depression is the term used to describe feelings of extreme sadness that lasts for weeks or months (not just days). These feelings are usually severe enough that they interfere with daily life.

How do I know if I have depression?

We all feel fed up or sad from time to time. Although unpleasant, these feelings don’t usually last long and don’t interfere with our lives too much. However, if the feelings don’t lift after a few days (e.g. if they go for weeks or months) and/or they are so severe that they interfere with your life (i.e. they stop you from going out with friends, going to work, enjoying life), then you may be experiencing depression. Some people don’t recognise their depression straight away as it can come on gradually.

People’s experiences of depression vary. However, common symptoms include: feeling unhappy most of the time; feeling hopeless and helpless; loss of interest in life, sex and/or activities that you used to enjoy; finding it hard to make decisions; feeling unable to cope with things that used to feel manageable; feeling tired, lethargic, exhausted, restless and agitated; low self-confidence; change in appetite and weight; and difficulties with getting to sleep and then waking up early in the morning. Some people who feel depressed also think about suicide.

What should I do if I think I have depression?

It is important to remember that we all feel sad or low in mood at various times in our life and for most people talking to a close friend or relative often helps us to feel better. However, if you think your feelings of depression are getting worse, if they are impacting on your work, interests and feelings towards your family, or if you feel that life isn’t worth living anymore then there are various ways in which you can access support. Your GP is likely to be the first person you will see about your depression. Your GP might then recommend further treatment.

What can I do to help myself?

There are a number of things you can try:

  • Talk to someone – talking about problems can help us feel better. Try talking to friends or relatives that you are close to.
  • Self-help books and websites – there are a number of self-help books and websites that are available to support people with depression. There are self-help computer packages available too, which can be accessed through your GP.
  • Self-help groups – a good way of getting in touch with people who are going through similar experiences. You can look for these on the internet.

What professional help could I get?

  • You can talk to your GP about how you are feeling. They may recommend:

o   Medication

o   Talking therapy

  • Talking therapy

o   There are different types of talking therapy.

o   You might be offered counselling, which will provide you with a confidential space in which to talk to someone about your concerns.

o   You may be offered Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, a form of talking therapy which encourages you to examine how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour interact and how they might contribute to your experience of depression. The therapy also encourages you to develop more helpful ways of thinking and behaving.

Where can I find out more?

National Health Service website:

Royal College of Psychiatrists website:

Self-Help Website:

Discuss your depression issues on the Mental Health Forum

Mental Health Forum Depression Forum

The Mental Health Forum thanks the anonymous author for writing this article. It has been written especially for the Mental Health Forum.

16 comments to Depression

  • neil00027

    please post about this on our forum at

  • kylie

    i have not been happy for years i feel ugly fat i dont want to go out it is getting worse now my mum died in front off me and my dad i miss her she was the one i talk to when i needed someone that never judge me i feel lost, scared and i dont know why i tried to tell my doctor but never listen to me i just dont no where to turn or speak to i just want my mind to stop thinking just need to speak to someone i have friends and family but i just feel i need someone that doesnt no me

  • karen

    I feel like I am banging my head off a brick wall trying to help myself but I feel like I am getting no where. I feel like giving up. it feels like constant battle and its not worth the effort anymore. I am making the lives of those around me an absolute nightmare and every response I ask for help is negative. I cant seem to get a break, feel relief. any suggestions anyone?

  • roxsand1

    Inot take to my mum because she cannot cope with me anymore I miss her I back on pozco but what to come off it am afraid that I mat get thought again I got my family but thay dont wont me to talk about my illnesses a feel very lonelyi on dizerpan but I keep come off it but I have withdrawn and I go back on it have any come of it

  • Mai

    I have been feeling depressed for the past 4 years. Sometimes it is worse than other times but it is something that has always been there in my mind. I started self harming when I was 13 as it was a way I could hurt myself which I thought I deserved. I then had a huge issue which involved the police and completely destroyed all my trust and I was back to self harming again-a lot. I thought about and still do think about death a lot, because I feel like I am just existing rather than living. Although I do not self harm anymore I still get the most awful pain in my chest, cry almost every day, feel hopeless and hate everything about myself. I also suffer from severe panic attacks. I have tried Counciling but could never trust the councillor with my thoughts and feelings. Similarly I have never told my family or friends how I feel as I don’t want to be seen as needing help although that is what I know I need. I am so easily able to fake a smile and act completely happy around people but when I’m on my own I fall apart. I am too scared to talk to my GP although nothing is getting any easier in my head. I cannot deal with feeling this depressed and upset anymore!

  • rachael

    hi iknow I might not be much help but im 18 years old and ive suffered with depression most of my life ive been given many different types of antidepressants from my gp I found that citalopram made me worse I started to have more violent thoughts an more thoughts of suicide the doctor changed my medication to sertraline and I found ive felt a lot better than I have before although the thoughts are still there its a lot less frequent hope this helps..

  • lexy, you find that core of strength we all have inside, and you fight girl. You are worth so much and you will be able to get through this. You will be leaving home soon, and you will find a way to make that life the very best you can.

    These are just words, I know, but you need the support and help that others can give. There is a place for younger people to meet online and reach out to each other called, Try it and you won’t feel as lonely in your struggle. There are other youngsters out there who can really help you.

  • hello. You are in such a bad way, and my heart goes out to you. This illness you have is terrible but your daughter also chose some life when she had that abortion. All she can do is live as much as she can.

    I sensed that you may feel some guilt at passing this on? It is an illness and you did not do anything to have it. That is hard though, I know. I am a 57 year old mother of two, I do get it. I don’t have a physical illness, but bipolar disorder. My children have had to live with me in terrible times, and near death times. I also feel guilt, even though I didn’t ask for this disorder. I stand a good chance also of having passed it on.

    I feel that guilt too, but I struggle daily to say that we didn’t choose this, we can only live each day for what it is. I try to find something in it for us all. I know you keep strong for her, don’t you? All that love you feel, and she feels, that is more valuable than any amount of illness.

    I know words can’t convey as much as we all would like, I just had to reach out a little. xxxx

  • I’m 52 yr old lady awaiting double Lung Transplant it was my birthday yesterday and it has compounded how Depressed Sad Lonely and Scared I am my Daughter who looks after me is a carrier of my Disease called Alpha1Antrypysin Deficency she is 24 yrs has degree from college she i HATE that her life is on Hold because of me!!!! she has a boyfriend who she met in college but is only seeing him last few months she travels 1 a week to see him in Dub last week she told me she was Pregnant,,,,,,,,, I died inside as she is so young with a lot of possibilities and more Imoprtantantly with the Alpha 1 she has 7 tumours on her Liver which is being carefully managed for last 7 yrs..
    I advised her to have an Abortion which she did recently our relationship has changed / I’m so lost I have 6 adorable grandchildren whom I love and under different circumstances I know I would have Loved that little Baby I feel sick with Guilt I keep dreaming of Babies /I SO wish I was not on Oxygen and I was we’ll I would have loved that Baby truly and HOnestly I feel so empty I wish I was DEAD!

  • neil00027

    Please join our forum at and share what is happening to you there. Many of our members will have had similar experiences to your own and may be able able to share some ideas which may help you.

  • hina

    I’m new to this website and the information seems helpful , but I have serious depression because of what’s happened in my past life. i’m lonely and can’t even talk to on one about this as its something i can’t say. i’d be grateful if someone could help me and advise me i dont cant see anyway out. i have a future to think about and i’m exhausted everyday the fact that i cant stop thinking too much i’m suffering from headaches now. its so horrible to have this illness. been to doctors and i’m on antidepressants citalopram 10mg. i feel like they’re not working. is there a way out of this i just seem to be trapped deep underground and see no light ahead. i’m suffering from physical pain as well as emotional. its been a year and half. just got worse could not take it anymore. i’d appreciate it if someone could advice me.

  • I’m new to this website and the information seems helpful , but I have serious depression when my moms boyfriend is around he is abusive and he threatens me and my little brother and my mom is in love with him and she ignores us and my father ain’t in my life its just me and my little brother and im just 16 and its been like this for ever !!!!!! What do i do !!

  • Melisa

    not just those who would prescribe antidepressants, but do more!

  • my depression dips weekly and goes very deep. I’m currently on citilipram 20mg , and would ask if I were to increase my dosage I would achieve a better level of responce. This is currently having a dreadful affect on my life.

  • neil00027

    Why don’t you speak to people on our forum? I suspect many of our members will have some useful suggestions for you. You can click on the link to visit the forum.

  • Chris

    I have and do experience a lot of the feelings mentioned above. I have done so for many years. I have a good docter but I am embarrassed to tell her…. all. I feel I am heading towards another crisis and need someone I feel at ease with to talk to, but dont know where to turn or what to do for the best.

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