What is depression? 

Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a day or so or a short amount of time. Most people go through periods of feeling down or upset, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a short time. It can also be intermittent and at times unexpected. 

Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. This is completely wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. It isn't a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together". 

What symptoms and feelings can you get?

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. You can have feeling of unhappiness and hopelessness that last for long periods. You lose interest in doing things you previously enjoyed and don't feel any desire to do them. You can feel tearful and useless and at times you don't want to leave your house, your room or even your bed and again, this can last for long periods. You can develop insomnia or just general bad sleeping patterns, you can have no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.

Depression and anxiety can also come hand in hand. 

The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in mood, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living. If you don't feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help.


  • go to any hospital A&E department (sometimes known as the emergency department)

  • call 999 and ask for an ambulance if you can't get to A&E

  • ask someone else to contact 999 for you or take you to A&E immediately

If you need some support right now, but don't want to go to A&E, here are some other options for you to try:

It's important to seek help from your GP if you think you may be depressed. Many people can wait a long time before getting to seeking help for depression, but it's best to seek help as soon as possible. Please don't be embarrassed or scared to do so. You are worth someone else's time and you are worth helping. 

What causes depression?

Sometimes there's a trigger for depression. Life-changing events, such as a death, loneliness, losing your job, having a baby or illness can bring depression on. People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves, but you can also become depressed for no obvious reason.

Depression is common, it affects about one in 10 people at some point during their life.