Understanding the symptoms of depression

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Depression is a common mental illness. It affects around one-in-six people in Great Britain*.

Mild depression can make you feel low and stop you getting things done. People with severe depression can feel hopeless, and even might have thoughts of suicide.

People with depression can find life difficult and might withdraw socially. They often have anxiety at the same time.

Depression can be triggered by many factors including bereavement, job worries or giving birth, but sometimes there is no obvious cause.

Help and support is available, it can be treated, and most people make a full recovery — even after years.

Treatment might be lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medication (anti-depressants).

Mental symptoms      Physical symptoms  
Feeling sad, upset or tearful      Tiredness or sleep problems 
Difficulty thinking clearly, lack of focus      Loss of appetite 
A sense of guilt or lack of self-worth      Loss of libido 
Feeling empty or emotionally numb      Aches and pains 
Lacking self-confidence      Moving or speaking slowly 
Being unable to find pleasure in things      Lack of energy 
Feeling anxious, worried or restless      Changes to menstrual cycle 
Thinking, or acting, on thoughts of self-harm, including suicide  
Emergency help

If you need to talk to someone urgently or think you may attempt to take your own life, help is available from:

  • Samaritans 24-hour crisis helpline – 116 123
  • MIND – 0300 123 3393
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) – 0800 58 58 58 (5pm to midnight)
  • Papyrus (for under 35s) – 0800 068 41 41 (9am to midnight)
  • Text SHOUT to 85258, and a trained crisis volunteer will text back
Key sources and further reading

NHS: Clinical depression

17 March, 2023