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What is depression?

It's likely that we've all heard the term 'depression' or 'depressed' before, but what do these words mean? Depression is a mental health problem that involves having a low mood or having little enjoyment in things. Depression can change the way we think, feel and behave and can have a big effect on our daily life. How severe someones depression is can dictate how much it affects their day to day life.

What does depression look like?

Like most mental health issues, the effects of depression can vary from person to person. The common signs of depression are things like:

  • Feeling down or upset

  • Feeling empty or numb

  • Feeling irritable or restless

  • Feeling guilty and worthless

  • Feeling isolated from others

  • Avoiding social events you usually enjoy

  • Self-harming or suicidal thoughts

  • Difficulty speaking, thinking clearly and making decisions

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

  • Drastic changes in weight or eating habits

Depression can affect the way you work, eat, relax, socialise, sleep, feel and manage money. It can be caused by a wide range of different things, including big life events and even other mental health problems.

What do I do if I feel depressed?

Talk to someone you trust. It isn't always easy to talk about how you feel, but many people find this to be a relief and to help take away that burden/anxiety. If you struggle to speak to friends or family, maybe try a peer support group, have a look on the CALM website for more details and to look for peer support groups near you.

Try mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of giving your full attention to the present moment. Some studies show that practicing mindfulness can help manage depression. There are also some mindfulness-based therapies that have been shown to help manage depression, including mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). For more information, look at Mind UK's page on mindfulness.

How can I support someone dealing with depression?

Support them with getting help. Getting help for your depression is a difficult thing, and it's never something that someone can be forced to do, but we can support those around us who choose to seek help. Reassure them that getting help is a perfectly okay thing and there's no need to be ashamed for reaching out.

Stay in touch. Depression can make it difficult to reach out to people and to keep in contact. If you're supporting someone with depression, try intentionally contacting them and initiating conversation when you can. Don't put pressure on them to reply, sometimes it can be reassuring to know someone is there even if they don't feel ready to respond.

Be patient. People managing depression can't just 'snap out of it', it can be a long process and it requires patience. A friend/family member with depression may be agitated, distant and dismissive and this can be difficult for us to manage. The important thing is to process these feelings, maybe by speaking to someone you trust. Don't forget to look after yourself!

For more information about depression and treatment for depression, visit Mind UK's page about depression.


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