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Depression, sometimes called clinical depression, can be a serious, debilitating mental illness and is quite different from the normal everyday experience of temporarily feeling sad or fed up.

Depression is also an extremely common condition:

  • Between 15-20% of people will have a bout of depression at some point in their lives.
  • Between 5-10% of the population could be suffering from the symptoms of depression at any one time.
  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. Men, however, are more likely to commit suicide as a result of depression.

Depression is related to a number of other mental illnesses including:

  • Postnatal depression
  • Bipolar Disorder (also known as manic depression)
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder

Symptoms of depression

Depression can affect people both psychologically and physically. Psychological symptoms of depression include: feelings of sadness and hopelessness, low self esteem, lack of motivation, excessive worrying, feeling anxious, irritable, feelings of guilt and suicidal thoughts. Physical symptoms include: slow movement or speech, lack of energy and feeling tired, waking in the early hours of the morning, loss of appetite and a reduced sex drive. These symptoms can last for weeks, months, or even years and can, if not treated, seriously impact on a person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

Treatment for depression

Depression is an illness that cannot be overcome by simply ‘pulling oneself together’. The good news though is that it can be treated. Treatment usually consists of a combination of self help, talking therapies (such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy and Counselling) and antidepressant medications (such as fluoxetine and citalopram). Treatment is normally conducted on an outpatient basis with a GP, psychiatrist, therapist or psychologist. However, some people may feel the need for short term inpatient treatment in order to receive more intensive care and support.

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Useful Websites

  • Depression Alliance Depression Alliance is the leading UK charity for people with depression. Their aim is to relieve and to prevent this treatable condition by providing information and support services to those who are affected by it via our publications, supporter services and network of self-help groups for people affected by depression.
  • Manic Depression Fellowship Established in 1983 MDF The BiPolar Organisation is a national user-led organisation and registered charity for people whose lives are affected by manic depression.
  • Mind Mind is the leading mental health charity in England and Wales. They work to create a better life for everyone with experience of mental distress.
  • Rethink Founded over 30 years ago to give a voice to people affected by severe mental illness and today, with over 8,300 members, remain determined that this voice will continue to be heard.
  • Samaritans Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.
  • SANE SANE was established in 1986 to improve the quality of life for people affected by mental illness.