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What is depression?

girl with depression looking out of a window

Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges faced by people in the UK, and affects how you think and feel. Milder forms of depression can make everyday tasks – such as sleeping or working – harder to do and the most severe cases can make a person feel worthless and suicidal. It can affect anyone at any age and from any background, including children.

However, with the right support many people can learn to live alongside depression or overcome it altogether. Even the most severe cases can be treated, often using talking therapies or medication.

We’ve put together some guidance on the symptoms, what to do if you think you have depression and where you can go for more information.

Symptoms of depression

Depression is rated as mild to severe; depending on the impact that symptoms have on a person’s everyday life. However, no two people are affected in the same way.

Mental symptoms of depression can include:

  • Feeling low or tearful
  • Feeling empty or numb
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss of motivation
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Finding no pleasure or enjoyment in things you used to love
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Feeling isolated from other people or becoming easily irritated
  • Feeling hopeless, helpless or despairing
  • Wanting to self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleep pattern (e.g. waking up early in the morning)
  • Changes in appetite, such as eating less or comfort eating
  • Difficulty speaking or thinking clearly
  • Loss of energy
  • Finding it hard to concentrate or remember things
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Moving slowly
  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Constipation

The NHS has a tool you can use to see if you are experiencing symptoms of depression. You can access it on the NHS website.

What’s the difference between a low mood and depression?

We all experience low moods from time to time, but these normally pass within a couple of weeks.

If you have a low mood that lasts for over two weeks or keeps returning for a few days at a time, you may be experiencing depression.

What can I do if I think I’m depressed?

If you think that you’re facing depression and that it’s having an impact on your life, then it’s important to seek support.   You can speak to your GP or ring the NHS on 111. They ‘ll work with you to work out the best treatment (such as talking therapy or medication) or self-care strategy for you.

It can also help to open up to someone you trust. Talking about a mental health challenge can seem daunting, but it can help to feel that you’re not facing it alone. For more advice, read our blog on talking about mental health.

It’s also important to care for your mental wellbeing, although this may feel hard sometimes. For example:

  • Try to keep active and get plenty of exercise.
  • Keep in touch with loved ones and be careful not to isolate yourself.
  • Remember that your mood will improve gradually and not immediately. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day.
  • Postpone important decisions until you feel better. If they can’t wait, talk them through with someone you trust and who knows you well.
  • Set realistic goals for yourself.

You can also read our tips in our blog on looking after your mental health.

Additionally, you may find it helpful to join a peer group or use online support communities. Some people find it helpful to share advice and experiences with those who are going through the same challenges as they are. For example:

More information

Our website also offers advice on work and mental health (PDF) and boosting your confidence.  You can find various blogs and advice sheets on a range of topics on our financial, mental, physical and social wellbeing pages.

The following websites also offer lots of in-depth information on depression:

We’re here

If you’re worried about your mental health, you can pick up the phone and call Ben’s confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat. It’s completely free to get in touch with us if you work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or you are dependent on someone who is.

You can find out what happens when you call us here.


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