Explains depression, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

Your stories

A letter to depression

Antalia shares a letter to depression.

Antalia Terblanche
Posted on 24/05/2016

Depression: sharing my story

Andy Baddeley, 1,500m runner and two-time Olympian, blogs about his experiences of depression.

Andy Baddeley
Posted on 27/05/2015

Blogging, depression and my nan

Georgina blogs about opening up about her experience of depression on her blog, on Facebook and to her Nan

Georgina Woolfrey
Posted on 05/08/2015

What are the symptoms of depression?

There are many signs and symptoms of depression, but everyone’s experience will vary. This page covers:

I had constant low mood, hopelessness, frustration with myself, feeling like I could cry at any moment.

Common signs and symptoms of depression

Some common signs of depression include:

How you might feel How you might behave
  • down, upset or tearful
  • restless, agitated or irritable
  • guilty, worthless and down on yourself
  • empty and numb
  • isolated and unable to relate to other people
  • finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy
  • a sense of unreality
  • no self-confidence or self-esteem
  • hopeless and despairing
  • suicidal
  • avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy
  • self-harming or suicidal behaviour
  • finding it difficult to speak or think clearly
  • losing interest in sex
  • difficulty in remembering or concentrating on things
  • using more tobacco, alcohol or other drugs than usual
  • difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • feeling tired all the time
  • no appetite and losing weight, or eating too much and gaining weight
  • physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause
  • moving very slowly, or being restless and agitated

It felt like I was really tired, all the time. I had no energy or emotion about anything.

About psychotic symptoms

If you experience an episode of severe depression, you might also experience some psychotic symptoms. These can include:

If you experience psychotic symptoms as part of depression, they're likely to be linked to your depressed thoughts and feelings. For example, you might become convinced that you've committed an unspeakable crime. These kinds of experiences can feel very real to you at the time, which may make it hard to understand that these experiences are also symptoms of your depression. They can also be quite frightening or upsetting, so it's important to seek help and support.

You might feel worried that experiencing psychotic symptoms could mean you get a new diagnosis, but psychosis can be a symptom of depression. Discussing your symptoms with your doctor can help you get the right support and treatment.

See our pages on psychosis for more information.

About self-harm and suicide

If you are feeling low, you might use self-harming behaviours to cope with difficult feelings. Although this might make you feel better in the short term, self-harm can be very dangerous and can make you feel a lot worse in the long term. See our pages on self-harm for more information.

When you're feeling really low and hopeless, you might find yourself thinking about suicide. Whether you're only thinking about the idea, or actually considering a plan to end your life, these thoughts can feel difficult to control and very frightening. If you're worried about acting on thoughts of suicide, you can call an ambulance, go straight to A&E or call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 to talk.

See our pages on how to cope with suicidal feelings for more information.

About anxiety

It's very common to experience depression and anxiety together. Some symptoms of depression can also be symptoms of anxiety, for example:

  • feeling restless
  • being agitated
  • struggling to sleep and eat

See our pages on anxiety for more information.

I flit between states of anxiety and depression. At times, each seems to fuel the other.

Can depression be a symptom of other mental health problems?

Depression can be a part of several mental health problems:

As feelings of low mood or suicidal thoughts might be the reason you first speak to your doctor about your mental health, your GP might offer you treatment for depression without realising that you are also experiencing other symptoms.

If you think you're experiencing other symptoms, you can talk to your doctor about this to make sure you're getting the right treatment to help you. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for information on how to make sure your voice is heard, and what you can do if you're not happy with your doctor.

This information was published in June 2016. We will revise it in 2019.

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