for better mental health

Depression

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.

This page is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

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

Common signs and symptoms of depression

Here are some common signs of depression you may experience.

How you might feel

  • 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.

How you might behave

  • avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy
  • self-harming or suicidal behaviour
  • difficulty speaking, thinking clearly or making decisions
  • losing interest in sex
  • difficulty 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."

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 treatment 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.

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 feel unable to keep yourself safe, it's a mental health emergency.

Get emergency advice

The risk of isolation 

It can sometimes be hard to explain your thoughts and feelings to others. You might find it difficult to talk about your depression and instead you might cut yourself off from other people. The more overwhelming your symptoms, the more isolated and lonely you might become.

Without treatment and support, depression can have an impact on your relationships, work, finances and overall health, so it's important to get help as early as possible. See our pages on treatment and support for more information.

"It feels like I'm stuck under a huge grey-black cloud. It's dark and isolating, smothering me at every opportunity."

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, such as:


If feelings of low mood or suicidal thoughts are 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 March 2019. We will revise it in 2022.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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