It’s important to know how to spot the symptoms if you are struggling to cope, and how to distinguish depression from other mental-health issues.
Here’s a guide to how to tell if you are suffering from depression and how to get the help you need.
Most of us feel down from time to time, but mental health experts say you may be depressed if you feel low for more than two weeks.
Head of information at mental health charity Mind, Stephen Buckley, told the M.E.N: If you’re feeling low for a couple of weeks or more without much change in mood, or such feelings return over and over again, this could be a sign of depression. Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life.
What are typical symptoms of depression?
There are a few different signs and symptoms of depression. These include persistent sadness or low mood, and/or loss of interests or pleasure. Other symptoms include fatigue or low energy, disturbed sleep, poor concentration or indecisiveness. People might also experience low self-confidence, poor or increased appetite, suicidal thoughts or acts, agitation or slowing of movements, guilt or self-blame.
A system called the ICD-10 is used as a reference point by psychologists to diagnose depression among patients. Research suggests that patients must experience at least four of the above symptoms to be categorised as mildly depressed. Anyone who experiences five or six symptoms is considered moderately depressed, and anyone with seven or more is considered severely depressed.
How do I know how bad my depression is?
How people experience depression can differ greatly. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live.
Stephen added: Symptoms of mental health problems may vary from person to person, but there are some common signs to look out for.
For example, someone with depression might feel restless, low-spirited, numb or helpless, sleep too much or too little, not eat properly, withdraw from contact with friends or family, or even in some cases think about suicide.
What shall I do if I feel depressed?
It’s important to seek help if you think you may be depressed. Reach out to people close to you, speak to a friend of family member, or go to your local GP, who can talk you through the support available. It may be they recommend therapy or medication. Stephen said: Speaking to your GP might seem daunting, but it’s the first step to getting the help and support that’s right for you.
You can also contact your local IAPT branch, a free talking therapy service provided by the NHS.
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