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Depression is a feeling of low mood. This can be minor or very extreme. While most people will go through periods of feeling low in their life, depression is characterised as a long lasting low mood that affects your ability to function day to day. There are different types of depression, for example:

  • SAD or seasonal affective disorder which primarily occurs in the winter
  • Postnatal depression which occurs shortly after the birth of a child
  • Prenatal depression which occurs during pregnancy
  • Chronic depression which is a long lasting depression for the duration of two years or more

The causes of depression may include:

  • Life changing events such as loss in the family, a new child, a loss of job of financial concerns
  • Genetic predisposition if it runs in your family
  • Sleep, diet and exercise problems
  • Physical health problems
  • Side effects from medications
  • Childhood problems
  • Other mental health conditions

Depression is usually diagnosed by a GP by carrying out medical tests to exclude any physical problems that may be causing the depression and questionnaires to answer how your symptoms affect you, how often they occur and for how long they’ve been continuing. If you have symptoms of depression for a lot of the day, and that persist longer than two weeks, you should seek support from your GP.

Treating depression usually includes medication, therapies and changing of lifestyles. The treatment you receive will depend on the severity of the depression you’re experiencing. Some people may find with low level antidepressants they are able to function in life, whereas others may need more support.

If you are experiencing a long lasting low mood you don’t need to put up with it. Seek diagnosis and treatment by visiting your primary care doctor. They can then refer you to the correct services or start a medication regime.