What is depression?
It’s normal to feel sad or miserable sometimes. But if your mood stays low for weeks at a time, keeps returning, or interferes with your life, it could be a sign of depression.
Depression is not the same as being sad, and is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is an illness, and can have a serious effect on a person’s life and the lives of those around them. In severe cases it can make everyday life extremely difficult, and even lead to suicide.
It can affect anyone, and is one if the most common mental health problems, affecting around 1 in 10 of us at some point.
Research has found that changes in brain systems or the chemical balance of the brain may be at the root of depression. These changes can be triggered by stressful events in life, such as a bereavement, the breakdown of a relationship or losing your job. But for some people, the illness occurs for no apparent reason.
People with a family history of depression are more at risk of developing the illness, but not everyone in this situation will develop depression. Some people are prone to suffering from depression at particular times in their lives. For example, some women may be particularly vulnerable to episodes of depression in relation to childbirth.
Depressive symptoms are also a part of bipolar disorder. Most people with depression do get better with the right treatment and support, but it can come and go.
Symptoms of depression
Depression affects everyone differently, but there are some common symptoms: