Many of us will feel depressed or experience periods of low mood, when things go wrong for us or we are struggling to cope with an unexpected setback or problem. In most cases this will pass. Some experts see this as the body’s defence mechanism when things get too much for us, or alternatively as a reaction to not meeting our own unrealistic expectations of ourselves.

However, in some cases the depression we feel can be prolonged and affect our feelings, actions and beliefs about ourselves. Depression may lead to other emotional problems and may also cause physical medical problems. It can affect our ability to function in our daily lives and even lead us to question the point of life itself. In these cases depression is seen as a disorder or illness affecting the person and may be referred to as chronic depression or clinical depression.

Depression can affect anyone. There are many causes of depression and each persons experience of depression is different. Depression can develop slowly over time, or it can be brought on by events in a persons life. Alternatively depression can have a physical cause in terms of a persons body chemistry.

There are many symptoms or signs that someone may be experiencing depression. It is an illness that affects everyone differently and with different levels of severity. Generally, people who suffer from depression report feelings such as:

  • Self harm or suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling overwhelmed by problems and unable to cope.
  • Feeling stressed, irritable and aggressive.
  • Feeling sad or weepy.
  • Changed eating habits: comfort eating or loss of appetite.
  • Disrupted sleep patterns and constant tiredness.
  • Avoiding meeting people and social situations.
  • Feelings of apathy or lethargy. Losing interest in the things you used to enjoy.