What is depression?
Depression is a mental illness that makes a person feel sad or unable to enjoy anything for weeks at a time.
They can also have other symptoms, such as having no energy, being irritable, or having problems with sleep. In severe cases, someone might even think about suicide.
Depression can stop people being able to do their job, study, or look after themselves and their family.
It can be a short-term illness, or it can come and go throughout a person’s life.
With the right treatment, someone with depression can recover and live a full, satisfying life.
Types of depression
Where someone has had symptoms of depression for at least two weeks at a time, and the symptoms are interfering with their everyday life. This is the most common type of depression in adults. It can be mild, moderate or severe.
Persistent depressive disorder
Similar to major depression, except that the person has had symptoms on and off for at least two years (or one year in children and teenagers).
When a woman feels extremely unhappy, irritable
or moody just before her monthly period, and the symptoms go away after her period starts (also called premenstrual dysphoric disorder).
Prenatal and postnatal depression
When a woman has symptoms of depression during pregnancy or after giving birth (also called perinatal depression or peripartum depression).
Similar to major depression, but with extra symptoms such as feeling extremely tired and weak, sleeping for excessive amounts of time, eating more than usual and putting on weight, and feeling extremely sensitive to being rejected by other people.
Seasonal patterns of depression
When someone only gets symptoms of depression each autumn and winter, and feels better each spring.
and summer, it is sometimes called ‘seasonal affective disorder’. Symptoms are usually mild (e.g. sleeping too much, having trouble getting up in the morning, tiredness during the day, overeating and putting on weight).
Clinical depression: Depression that’s been diagnosed by a professional. This is not a type of depression
– it could include any type. This term is no longer commonly used by health-care professionals.
Unipolar depression: The opposite of bipolar depression. Unipolar depression includes any type of depression when the person doesn’t have bipolar disorder.
What causes depression?
There is no single cause of depression. It can be caused by different things in different people.
Depression tends to run in families. Genes are a big part of the reason someone gets depression. Usually there are also other reasons, such as:
• stress and life problems
• traumatic life events
• grief and loss
• not sleeping well
• health problems
• lack of physical activity • unhealthy eating
• using alcohol or other drugs • medications.
Not everyone who is miserable and stressed by things in their lives has depression – but these feelings can lead to depression.
Who gets depression?
Anyone can get depression. It is very common. On average more than 1 in 5 people will have depression sometime in their life.
Most people are over 20 years old when they have depression for the rst time.
Children and teenagers can also get depression.
Women are about twice as likely as men to get depression.
People with other mental health problems such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia can also have depression. Depression is a part of bipolar disorder.
Depression can cause any of these symptoms:
- feeling sad or down
- not being able to enjoy things that are normally enjoyable
- often thinking about death or suicide
- eating too much or not enough
- gaining or losing weight
- sleeping more than usual, or not being able to sleep properly
- having no energy or getting tired easily
- not being able to concentrate or think clearly
- feeling bad about yourself, worthless or guilty
- physical movement that is either slowed down or sped up
Everyone can feel down sometimes, but if the symptoms last for more than a few weeks, it could be depression. Someone might feel this way all the time, or the symptoms might come and go.