Depression is when a person feels sad, lonely, down, anxious, apathetic, exhausted or stressed for long periods of time. As well as making you feel unhappy or flat, it can affect your everyday life, making you tired, antisocial, or withdrawn. Depression can prevent you from doing normal things like going to school, doing your job, seeing friends or looking after your family.
Different methods of treatment are available for people who are depressed including exercise, talking therapies and medication. There are also positive steps you can take to look after your own mental health, which can help protect against depression or stop depression becoming worse.
Take action: Being kind to yourself, keeping active and challenging your low mood (for example, by exercising even though you feel tired and low) are all ways you can take action against depression. Get more self help for depression from Mind.
Symptoms of Depression
- feeling sad or anxious most of the time
- not wanting to do things that you previously enjoyed,
- not wanting to meet up with friends or avoiding situations
- sleeping more or less than normal
- eating more or less than normal
- feeling irritable, upset, miserable or lonely
- being self-critical
- feeling hopeless
- maybe wanting to self-harm
- feeling tired and not having any energy
Depression can be a reaction to stresses such as exams, bullying, abuse, or family troubles. But it can also happen without any cause. If someone in your family has depression, or has had it in the past, then you may be more likely to get it too. Most people recover from depression within 3-12 months, although some will need long-term treatment..
Take action: Just like looking after your physical health, by keeping fit, eating well, and setting healthy habits, you can also look after your mental health through using the five ways to wellbeing. These give you five actions to do every day that help your mental health. They are: connect (talk to people), be active (go outside and do something physical), take notice (observe, take a photo, be absorbed in something), keep learning (this can be at school, or just reading or practising a new skill) and give (help someone else). Looking after your mental wellbeing can make you more resilient.
Depression is not the end
Lots of creative, happy and successful people have at one time or another had depression. Through effective self care and treatment they have taken the steps they need to manage, cure or improve their depression.
In collaboration with the WHO to mark World Mental Health Day, writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone tells the story of overcoming the "black dog of depression".