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What is Depression?



depressionWe all go through spells of feeling down. When you’re depressed, you feel persistently sad for weeks or months on end, rather than just a few days. Some people still think that depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They are wrong. Depression is a real mental disorder, and it’s not a sign of weakness, or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”.

If you are depressed, check out the support we offer so that we can help you. Please call 0845 790 9090 if it is urgent.

What is depression?

First of all, if you have depression, it’s important to know that nearly half of the population has a history of a psychiatric disorder. Anxiety and depression top the list.

Depression is becoming a worldwide epidemic that ends up destroying people’s enjoyment of life. 1 in 5 adults, and half of children and adolescents, report some symptoms of depression.

Unfortunately, most do not seek help at all. To make matters worse, 75% of those with depression suffer other psychological problems, with the primary one being anxiety disorders. Rates of substance abuse are high with depression sufferers.

Depression is not just one or two different symptoms, it is a collection of feelings, behaviours and thoughts that a person will experience. Some examples of what a depressed person may be experiencing are the following:

  • Feeling worthless; you do not find things enjoyable anymore
  • Indecisiveness
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

There are a few ways to be depressed. There is major depressive disorder, milder depression, and many females suffer antenatal and postnatal depression. Bipolar disorder is another form of depression, which used to be called manic-depressive disorder.

All types of people can suffer from depression; there are numerous famous people who have done so too.

What causes depression?

There is a genetic component to depression, which may make you prone to it, but depression is also related to brain chemistry. Differences in the levels of serotonin, noradrenaline and other chemicals can leave you prone to depression.

How you were raised when you were young is another factor; parents who communicated with their children in ways that left them feeling helpless of self-critical can increase their child’s risk of depression drastically. Unaffectionate parents who do not validate feelings, or are excessively controlling, tend to raise children who end up depressed in their adult life.

How destructive is depression?

Depression can affect all areas of life, especially work. It will impair daily functioning, and often leads to many days off work. Sometimes, someone who is depressed will feel they cannot even get out of bed. Instead, they may sit at home ruminating about how bad they feel there life is.

Depression often leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. Smoking, inactivity, and binge eating can all result from depression, and these activities only make your risk of heart disease even higher. Elderly people who are depressed are more likely to die earlier, and have increased chances of Alzheimer’s disease.

The most tragic consequence of depression is suicide. Sufferers of depression can, and often do, feel hopeless; that they can see no way out. Depression takes the form of self-critical thoughts, sadness, hopelessness, withdrawal, irritability and other symptoms. These can consume the sufferer, and result in them feeling life is not worth living.

To get to the point where a person feels no life is preferable to any life is extremely saddening. Depression is a major cause of suicide in men in the U.K, and at Anxious Minds, we want to stop these needless deaths. Contact us if you need help.

When to See a Doctor

It’s important to seek help from your GP if you think you may be depressed. Many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it’s best not to delay. 70% recover from depression on their own within one year. Seeking help now means you will recover even quicker.

The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the road to recovery. Sometimes there is a trigger for depression. Life-changing events, such as bereavement, losing your job or even having a baby, can bring it on.

Treatment for depression involves either medication or cognitive therapies, or usually a combination of the two. The kind of treatment that your doctor recommends will be based on the type of depression you have.


There are different types of depressive disorders, and how strongly it effects your life depends on which one you have. The link to each one is listed below; please click the names in order to be re-directed to the relevant page.

Major Depression

Major depression is sometimes called major depressive disorder, clinical depression, unipolar depression or simply depression. It involves low mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities, as well as other symptoms.

Melancholic Depression

This is the term used to describe a form of major depressive disorder that is characterised by complete loss of pleasure in everything. Hobbies that they found interest and pleasure in now appear boring or pointless.

Psychotic Depression

Sometimes people with a depressive disorder can lose touch with reality and experience psychosis. This can involve hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there) or delusions (false beliefs that are not shared by others), such as believing they are bad or evil, or that they are being watched or followed.

Antenatal & Postnatal Depression

Women are at an increased risk of depression during pregnancy (known as the antenatal or prenatal period) and in the year following childbirth (known as the postnatal period). You may also come across the term ‘perinatal’, which describes the period covered by pregnancy and the first year after the baby’s birth.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder used to be known as ‘manic depression’ because the person experiences periods of depression and periods of mania, with periods of normal mood in between. Bipolar disorder seems to be most closely linked to family history. Stress and conflict can trigger episodes for people with this condition and it’s not uncommon for bipolar disorder to be misdiagnosed. There are many different types, you will find information regarding each on the page dedicated to it.

Remember, depression is treatable and effective treatments are available. The earlier you seek help, the better.


Dr. Robert Leahy, Beat the Blues Before They Beat You: How To Overcome Depression.