Depression is a mental health condition which affects a person's thinking, energy, feelings and behaviour. It can vary from mild to severe and can prove disabling in some cases, impacting on the individual's family and work life. It is possible to minimise the impact of depression by accessing information and support, and by finding ways to manage the condition.

Depression has eight main symptoms. If you experience five or more of these symptoms, lasting for a period of two weeks or more, you may be suffering with depression.

The symptoms of depression are:

  1.      Feeling sad, anxious or bored 
  2.      Low energy, feeling tired or fatigued 
  3.      Under- or over-sleeping, or waking frequently during the night 
  4.      Poor concentration, thinking slowed down
  5.      Loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life
  6.      Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt
  7.      Aches and pains with no physical basis, e.g. chest/head/tummy pain associated with anxiety or stress
  8.      Loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts

Depression has a number of possible causes. For some people, it comes about as a result of a traumatic life event such as bereavement, relationship breakdown, financial difficulties or bullying.

In other situations, the person may have an inherent tendency towards depression, and such genetic factors can be key in the case of bipolar disorder.

This mood disorder involves not just periods of depression, but also periods of elation, where the person's mood is significantly higher than normal. During these periods, he/she may have excessive energy with little need for sleep, may have grandiose ideas and may engage in risk-taking behaviour.

Main Types of Depression

Mild depression

The person typically experiences tiredness, some early morning wakening, indecision, impaired concentration and loss of confidence. It is important to note here that the person will not necessarily feel depressed;

Moderate depression

Most of symptoms referred above are present: the person feels depressed, is extremely fatigued, has marked sleep disturbance and appears to others to be depressed;

Severe depression

In addition to the symptoms of moderate depression, the person's judgement is impaired in a severe depression - i.e. they have an extremely negative and pessimistic view of their own self-worth and future prospects. Strong suicidal thoughts (or intent) may also be present. Someone suffering a severe depressive episode may have delusions or false beliefs (e.g. that they are evil, wicked, bankrupt or terminally ill) or may suffer from hallucinations (hearing voices or having visions) with similar themes.

When delusions or hallucinations are present, the depression is referred to as a psychotic depression. Such depressions are an extreme extension of the negative thinking that is part of a mild or moderate depression.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder involves both depressive periods and their opposite, which are known as elations or manic periods. Symptoms of the depressed phase are the same as those of unipolar depression described above.

The symptoms of elation (mania) are:

  1.      Feeling elated, enthusiastic, excited, angry, irritable or depressed
  2.      Increased energy, 'never felt as well', over-talkative or over-active
  3.      Reduced need for sleep and marked difficulty in getting off to sleep
  4.      Racing thoughts, 'pressure in the head', indecision, jumping from one topic to another, poor concentration
  5.      Increased interest in pleasurable activities, new adventures, sex, alcohol, street drugs, religion, music or art
  6.      Excessive and unrealistic belief in one's ability, or having grandiose plans

Being unaware of the physical symptoms of illness such as asthma, having muscle tension at the

  1.      back of the head or round the shoulders
  2.      Thinking that one can live forever, taking reckless physical risks or, if angry or distressed, feeling suicidal.


It is always advisable to seek medical help if you believe you may be suffering with depression. However, if you are struggling to make that first step towards getting help and if you need to talk to someone contact us in confidence and we will work with you at your pace and in a way that suits you.

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