Feeling depressed is an ordinary reaction to everyday trials and tribulations. If you lose your job or fight with your partner, or even just have a bad day at work, it's normal to feel deflated or upset as a result.
It's when these feelings become consistent or overwhelming – or when they come about for no reason, and stick around for a long time – that you need to seek professional help. Even though the name is the same, this true clinical depression is far more than a short-lived sadness or an upset over a particular event.
Unfortunately, there's an unwarranted stigma associated with depression that prevents people from seeking treatment, but it's important to realise that depression is very common, and you're not alone.
The statistics are shockingly high: according to the UK Mental Health Foundation, one in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem over the course of a year. There are more than 60 million people in the UK, so that's around 15 million people per year suffering from some kind of mental health issue in Britain alone.
Mild depression can cause you to feel bleak, lonely and uninspired, but at the worst end of the scale, severely depressed people struggle to hold down jobs or relationships, or maintain an active lifestyle. Without diagnosis or treatment, those battling with depression will often attempt suicide or self-harm. Currently, the UK has one of the highest rates of self-harm in all of Europe.
Due to the UK's northern latitude, which means fewer sunlight hours (particularly during winter), the British are more susceptible to a light-sensitive depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Do you recognise any of these signs -– either in yourself, a friend, colleague or family member? If so, there is help at hand! For advice, support and more information, talk to your GP or check out the following sites: www.samaritans.org, www.mind.org.uk and www.rethink.org.
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