If low mood means you're struggling to function from day to day, you may be experiencing symptoms of depression
Depression – also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression – is a mood disorder that causes an ongoing feeling of sadness and your interest in things to fade.
Depression affects how you think, feel, and behave and can lead to a range of emotional and physical issues – from feeling low or hopeless to changes in appetite or sleeping patterns. Depending on how severe your symptoms are you may find doing normal day-to-day activities difficult, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living. You might stop doing the activities that you once enjoyed, or you might withdraw from friends and family. This can in turn increase feelings of isolation and hopelessness. Depression and anxiety are often linked, and many people with depression will also have symptoms of anxiety. Depression isn’t a bout of the blues and you can't just snap out of it. It can require long-term treatment. But don't be discouraged. Most people with depression feel better with medication, therapy or both.
There are many different types of depression, including:
Depression can arise during pregnancy and also in the weeks and months after becoming a parent. It’s most common in women, but men can be diagnosed with it too.
SAD is a depression that typically – but not always – occurs in the winter.
Depression has no clear single cause. Sometimes an episode of depression can be triggered by a difficult life-changing event, but it can also be caused by a build-up of smaller stresses. Some episodes of depression may not have an obvious trigger at all and you may struggle to understand why exactly you’re feeling this way.
The best treatment plan for dealing with depression will depend on the severity of your depression and the length of time you’ve been suffering from the symptoms.
It can be difficult to know how best to help a friend or family member who is experiencing episodes of depression. Here are some things to consider:
Many people with depression find it hard to talk about how they are feeling for fear of being judged, or that their experiences will be dismissed by those who don’t understand. Reassure your loved one that it’s good to talk and perfectly okay to ask for help if they’re struggling. Being open about your own feelings and emotions can help put them at ease and encourage them to share their experiences with you.
On the other hand, it can be tempting to try and do everything for someone that is struggling with depression or to always ask how they are feeling. While this comes from a good place, it isn’t always the most helpful for someone experiencing a depressive episode. Generally, it’s good to encourage them to keep doing things for themselves and not allow their depression to define them as a person. Even though they’re going through a difficult experience they’re still your friend or family member and will appreciate you treating them the same as you normally would.
Someone experiencing depression may withdraw from activities that they once enjoyed or possibly isolate themselves from groups of friends or family members. If you notice someone doing this in a way that seems out of character, check in with them. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture, just a message to check in and let them know that you’re there for them can be enough to improve their mood.
If you would like to find out about other mental health support options available in your area, visit the NHS website.