Although it's common to hear the phrase “I'm depressed” used by people who may simply be experiencing a temporary low mood, or having a rough day, depression is a real illness that often requires therapy to manage.
Depression may be triggered by a specific event, such as postnatal depression after the birth of a baby. Other mental illnesses may have depression as one of the symptoms, such as bipolar disorder, where there are spells of depression and excessively high mood (mania). Another type of depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), where the sufferer finds their depression has a seasonal connection, typically associated with winter.
If you have depression you are likely to experience several of these symptoms but remember everyone is different. In some people the main signs are emotional, while others may have more physical symptoms. However the illness manifests itself, the symptoms typically persist for weeks or months and interfere with work, family and social life, says the NHS website.
Depression can range from mild to severe. According to the NHS, mild depression has "some impact" on your daily life; moderate depression has a "significant impact" on your daily life; and severe depression makes it "almost impossible to get through daily life." Some people with severe depression may also have psychotic symptoms.
The NHS advises seeking help from your GP if you have been experiencing some of the signs of depression for most of the day, every day, for two weeks or longer. Many people are embarrassed to seek professional help — don't be. Your GP can discuss the best treatment options for you and help you work out how to get a support system in place.
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