Information about depression, its symptoms and possible causes, and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips on caring for yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
Experiencing depression can be very difficult, but there are steps you can take that might help. This page has some suggestions for you to consider:
It might feel hard to start talking about how you are feeling, but many people find that just sharing their experiences can help them feel better. It may be that just having someone listen to you and show they care can help in itself.
If you aren't able to open up to someone close to you, the Samaritans run a 24-hour helpline that you can call to talk to someone confidentially.
"[What helps is] surrounding myself with friends and family who understand without pointing it out, who treat me normally but recognise that everyday life can be a struggle sometimes."
Peer support brings together people who've had similar experiences to support each other. Many people find it helps them to share ideas about how to stay well, connect with others and feel less alone. You could:
See our pages on peer support for more information about what peer support involves, and how to find peer support that suits you. If you're new to online peer support, you might find it helpful to read our information on online mental health.
"I find reading other people's experiences makes me feel less like I'm alone in this. It's actually made me feel more comfortable."
Mindfulness is a way of giving your full attention to the present moment. Some studies show that practising mindfulness can help to manage depression.
Some structured mindfulness-based therapies have also been developed to treat these problems more formally. For example, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for the management of depression.
See our pages on mindfulness for more information about what it involves and how to get started.
"Mindfulness does help me with my mental health issues. It's not the cure and it won't work every single time, but it has helped me to alleviate anxiety and depression by centring my thoughts."
Experiencing depression can make it hard to find the energy to look after yourself. But taking steps to look after your physical health can make a difference to how you feel:
"I try to keep active, even if that's just getting out of bed, washed and ready before 10am, so that the days don't become an endless blur of nothingness."
Keeping a mood diary can help you keep track of any changes in your mood, and you might find that you have more good days than you think. It can also help you notice if any activities, places or people make you feel better or worse. There are many freely available, including diaries from Bipolar UK and MoodPanda.
Spending time in nature has been found to help with mental health problems like depression. For example, research into ecotherapy, a type of formal treatment which involves doing activities outside in nature, has shown it can help with mild to moderate depression. This might be due to combining regular physical activity and social contact with being outside in nature. See our information on nature and mental health for more tips.
You could put together some things that might help you when you're struggling – a bit like making a first-aid kit for your mental health.
Taking time to look after yourself, such as doing something you enjoy, can help to support your recovery and improve your quality of life. Take a look at our information on improving your self-esteem, improving your wellbeing and managing stress for further tips.
"I've made a list of things I usually enjoy, like knitting or playing the guitar, and I try to do little bits of these activities when I'm feeling low."
Some people find these ideas useful, but remember that different things work for different people at different times. Only try what you feel comfortable with, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. If something isn't working for you (or doesn't feel possible just now), you can try something else, or come back to it another time.
This information was published in March 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References and bibliography available on request.
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