What is Depression?
Having depression is different from the sadness that most of us experience as part of our “normal” range of emotion.
Depression is an illness, which means that intense feelings of persistent sadness, helplessness and hopelessness are accompanied by a number of other symptoms, such as sleeplessness, a loss of energy, aches and pains and changes in appetite. Depression can also affect an individual’s self-esteem and confidence, concentration, ability to enjoy things and everyday functioning in general.
Thoughts of harming yourself or wishing you were dead can often be a symptom associated with depression. Thoughts of this kind are quite common and do not mean that an individual will harm themselves. However, it is important to inform a GP or other health care worker about these thoughts as it may enable more appropriate management of the illness.
Depression is common, affecting at least 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men at some point in their lifetime.
People may suffer symptoms of depression as part of an illness called bipolar disorder (manic depression). In this condition, people experience mood swings of both high mood and low mood, both of which may cause impairment in an individual’s everyday functioning.