Depression

Based on your responses, you do not have a high risk of depression. However, depression is common and we would advise that you see your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your mood, or if you have thoughts of harming yourself.

Introduction

Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.

Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They're wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression isn't a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together".

The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery.

Things that you can do if you have depression

It is important that you see your doctor if you think you have symptoms of depression.

Various treatments are available for depression, including talking therapies, antidepressant medication and self-help techniques.

Self-help techniques can include activities such as meditation, breathing exercises and learning ways to think about problems differently. Tools such as self-help books and online counselling can be very effective.

It can also be helpful to try some of these coping strategies below:

Stay in touch

Socialising can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low or depressed.

Be more active

There's evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven't exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day.

Try to eat a healthy diet

Some people don't feel like eating when they're depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight. Antidepressants can also affect your appetite. If you're concerned about weight loss, weight gain or how antidepressants are affecting your appetite, talk to your doctor.

Smoking, drugs and alcohol

If you have depression, it may be tempting to smoke or drink to make you feel better. Cigarettes and alcohol may seem to help at first, but they make things worse in the long run.

Be extra cautious with cannabis. You might think it's harmless, but research has shown a strong link between cannabis use and mental illness, including depression.

Work and finances

If your depression is caused by working too much or if it's affecting your ability to do your job, you may need time off to recover.

However, there's evidence to suggest that taking prolonged time off work can make depression worse. There's also evidence to support that going back to work can help you recover from depression.

It's important to avoid too much stress, and this includes work-related stress. If you're employed, you may be able to work shorter hours or work in a more flexible way, particularly if job pressures seem to trigger your symptoms.

Coping with bereavement

Losing someone close to you can be a trigger for depression.

When someone you love dies, the sense of loss can be so powerful that you feel it's impossible to recover. However, with time and the right help and support, it's possible to start living your life again.

Depression and suicide

The majority of suicide cases are linked with mental disorders, and most of them are triggered by severe depression.

Warning signs that someone with depression may be considering suicide include:

  • making final arrangements, such as giving away possessions, making a will or saying goodbye to friends
  • talking about death or suicide – this may be a direct statement, such as "I wish I was dead", but often depressed people will talk about the subject indirectly, using phrases like "Wouldn't it be nice to go to sleep and never wake up"
  • engaging in self-harm, such as cutting their arms or legs, or burning themselves with cigarettes
  • showing signs of a sudden lifting of mood, which could mean that a person has decided to attempt suicide and feels better because of this decision

Contact your doctor immediately if you're feeling suicidal or are struggling with depression. They'll be able to help you.

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