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What it is

Depression is a condition of persistent low-mood which is not just an emotional reaction to particular events but is present for weeks or months. It can affect your ability to function mentally or even physically, and to connect emotionally.  If it is unaddressed and worsens it can lead to significant or fatal self-harm.  

Signs, Symptoms and Causes

Depression can present differently according to the individual and the type of depression they have. Most people will have several but not all of them. Typical signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling very low, empty, or sad.

  • Losing interest in things you used to enjoy.

  • Feeling disconnected from others.

  • Having unusual difficulty concentrating.

  • Feeling irritable or anxious.

  • Feeling hopeless about the future.

  • Low self-esteem.

  • Feeling tired or low in energy without a physical reason.

  • Sleeping significantly more or less than usual.

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

There may be genetic factors which mean some people are more easily affected by depression. Often a sequence of negative events and responses can lead to depression, but the mental-illness is ongoing even after the triggers have become less critical. Difficult living circumstances and ongoing problems such as health issues can also increase the likelihood of depression.

Common types

Major Depressive Disorder: This is an alternative name for what is commonly known as Depression, as described above.

Post-Natal Depression: Maternal depletion, hormonal changes, and the pressures of looking after a newborn can trigger depression in mothers after the birth of a child.

Bipolar-Disorder: This is characterized by periods of feeling depressed, alternating with episodes of high spirits, energy and often impulsiveness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: This type of depression is connected to the seasons and light levels, and tends to occur during winter months specifically.

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