Understanding the causes and symptoms of depression, and some self-help tips and advice in helping you manage your own depression.




Depression is a serious yet common medical illness that adversely and negatively affects how you feel, think and act. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems, which often limits a person’s ability to function at work and at home. Depression can often come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. Many people try to cope with their symptoms without realising they're unwell. It can sometimes take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong.
Depression can affect anyone and can strike at any time. It is often triggered by the death of a loved one, loss of a job, ending of a relationship, or even physical assault, neglect, abuse, poverty and trauma. Depression can run in families and people with low self-esteem and who are easily overwhelmed by stress, either at home or at work, are more likely to experience depression.

Degrees of depression:

  • Mild depression – has some impact on your daily life
  • Moderate depression – has a significant impact on your daily life
  • Severe depression – makes it almost impossible to get through daily life; a few people with severe depression may have psychotic symptoms.


Depression symptoms can include:

  • Feeling intensely sad or low.
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions.
  • Having low motivation.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Problems falling asleep, sleeping.
  • Sleeping too much.
  • Loss of interest or the inability to take pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
  • Weight loss or weight gain unrelated to dieting.
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., pacing)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Feelings of self-loathing.


There are a number of things you can do to help overcome your depression.
Firstly  try to realise what is causing you to feel depressed, and then put them into three main categories; a) those with an immediate practical solution b) those that will take longer to get better and c) those you can’t do anything about. Once you have identified and categorised what might be causing your depression, you can then work at positively changing your lifestyle.

Other things that help you cope with feeling depressed is:

  • Try to keep in touch with friends and family, or find someone you can talk to. Lots of evidence to show that talking about things really helps.
  • Read books on managing depression.
  • Join a therapy or support group where other people with similar problems meet and about learn ways to tackle depression.
  • Don't withdraw from life and try to socialize; socializing and meeting other people really does help combat depression.
  • Exercise; exercise lifts your moods and makes you feel more confident. Try to get out in nature too; again lots of evidence shows that nature therapy helps combat depression.
  • Face your fears – don't feel depressed about the things you are not doing, instead concentrate on the things you are doing.
  • Cut down on your alcohol, alcohol can be a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, but it is also a depressive so will only make you feel worse.
  • Eating healthily, there is a growing amount of evidence showing how food affects our mood and how eating healthily can improve this.
  • Not sleeping can quickly lead to depression, so try to get a good nights sleep, or look at ways of improving your environment so you can get more restful sleep.


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© Robin Barratt