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Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, affecting a wide range of people from many walks of life. Understanding the signs and symptoms of depression is key to getting the help and treatment needed.

Depression is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest that can interfere with daily life. The symptoms vary from mild to severe and can last for weeks to years if left untreated. Recognising symptoms early and seeking help is important for recovery.

Though many individuals experience occasional moments of feeling low, depression entails enduring sadness that can last for weeks or even months, as opposed to just a brief period.

If you or someone you know is suffering from Depression and you feel you need someone to talk to. Please contact our helpline on 0808 115 1505 for confidential support.

What are the most common physical symptoms of depression?

Several frequently observed bodily symptoms that may signal depression include:

  • Fatigue and low energy levels
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight loss or gain
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Digestive issues
  • Headaches and other unexplained pains

While these physical symptoms can have other causes, their presence alongside emotional symptoms can point to depression.

What does depression feel like emotionally and mentally?

Emotionally and mentally, depression can make someone feel:

  • Sad, tearful, or empty for most of the day
  • Hopeless about the future and pessimistic
  • Worthless, helpless, or guilty
  • Anxious and worried
  • Irritable or frustrated over small matters
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Difficulty concentrating, recalling details, and making decisions
  • Thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm

The emotional pain of depression can feel unrelenting, so it’s understandable why some describe it as agonising, unbearable, and overwhelming. For a listening ear and expert advice on managing depression, your GP and our helpline are here for you. Call us on 0808 115 1505.

What are the common signs and symptoms of clinical depression?

The most widely recognised symptoms of major depressive disorder are:

  • Depressed or irritable mood
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Feeling agitated or restless
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Experiencing five or more of these symptoms for longer than two weeks indicates a depressive episode that warrants medical care. Remember, you’re not alone – get help today from our dedicated voluntary workers

What type of depression do women experience postnatally?

Many new mothers experience “postnatal blues” after giving birth—feeling emotional and moody for about 1-2 weeks due to hormone fluctuations.

However, longer-lasting postnatal depression can affect some new mothers. Symptoms like sadness, anxiety, exhaustion, and difficulty bonding with the baby begin in pregnancy or later within the first year of delivery.

Perinatal and postnatal depression exhibit typical depressive symptoms that happen around the enormous life change of childbirth. Seeking help is crucial for the wellbeing of both mother and child. Speak to your GP, midwife, or health visitor as soon as possible. For further reading, please visit the NHS website.

How do I know if I have depression or bipolar disorder?

There is overlap between depression and bipolar disorder symptoms, so getting an accurate diagnosis from a mental health professional is recommended to determine suitable treatment.

To identify depression, be alert to symptoms like sadness, suicidal thinking, fatigue, and sleep/appetite changes lasting nearly every day for over 2 weeks.

For bipolar disorder, look out for shifts between high energy/activity and severe low moods, plus other key symptoms emerging distinctively in periods over time.

Keeping a mood journal can help track your symptoms. Bring these records to discuss with a GP or clinician. It’s important to seek medical help to explore treatment options and begin your journey towards recovery. Getting the right diagnosis is key to effectively treating depression or bipolar disorder. Our helpline is open to anyone struggling with mental health related issues similar to depression, contact us today on 0808 115 1505.

Treatment Options

Talking treatments for depression

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) operates on the premise that our thoughts, emotions, physical experiences, and behaviours are interwoven and that unconstructive thoughts and emotions can ensnare us in a detrimental loop. The primary objective of CBT is to empower individuals to confront overwhelming challenges with a more optimistic mindset by dissecting them into manageable components. CBT provides practical techniques to transform these negative patterns, leading to a noticeable enhancement in emotional well-being. Dissimilar to certain other therapeutic approaches, CBT concentrates on addressing present concerns rather than delving into past issues. Its focus lies in discovering tangible and actionable methods to foster a healthier state of mind in day-to-day life.


Antidepressants are medicines that treat depression symptoms. There are almost 30 different types of antidepressants that can be prescribed to you. Most people who have moderate or severe depression notice improvement when they take antidepressants, but this isn't the case for everyone. One type of antidepressant might not work for you, but another one could. It can take two or more different treatments to find the right one for you. Side effects vary between different people and different antidepressants, but the different types of antidepressants all work with each other. If you're prescribed antidepressants, you should see your GP or specialist nurse regularly while you first start taking the medication—every week or two for at least four weeks. This is so your treatment provider can see how the antidepressants are working. If the medication is working for you, you should continue taking it at the same dose for at least four to six months after the depression symptoms have eased. People who have had depression in the past might have to take antidepressants for up to five years, maybe longer. Antidepressants aren't addictive. However, you might have withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them suddenly or miss a dose. You can read more about withdrawal symptoms below.

Discover coping strategies

Depression self help guide

Part of treating and living with depression is learning healthy thought patterns and coping skills that can help when you’re feeling depressed. Our mental health self-help guides are based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and have proven highly successful in helping people with depression and other mental health issues.


Take up some form of exercise. There's evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven't exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day.

Tips on cutting down on alcohol

If you regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, try these simple tips to help you cut down. 14 units is equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 6 medium glasses of wine.